Two British men have been jailed for torturing and murdering a pair of French students — in a case that highlighted horrific blunders in the country's criminal justice system.

Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, were stabbed 244 times in what the court heard was an "orgy of bloodletting."

Their killers — Dano Sonnex, 23, and Nigel Farmer, 34 — had burst into Bonomo's residence in New Cross, south London, in a burglary gone wrong.

Sonnex was told he would serve a minimum of 40 years for the murders. Farmer was jailed Thursday for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Trial judge Justice Saunders said the pair had escaped being jailed for the "truly horrific" murders for the rest of their lives only because of their young ages.

The two students were tied up and subjected to a three-hour torture ordeal before they died in June last year.

Bonomo's mother Lydie said her son would still be alive today if it were not for the errors at every level of the justice system that kept Sonnex out of custody.

He had been jailed for a previous knife attack but was allowed out on license and went straight back to a life of crime.

But instead of being recalled to prison, he was left free to kill after what was described as a "complete breakdown in communication."

Even when the error was spotted, it was 16 days before police came to take Sonnex into custody — but they were too late.

Unknown to officers, the French students already lay dead in a scene of "almost unimaginable horror."

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has apologized to the victims' families for the blunders while David Scott, head of the London probation service, resigned following a review of the case.

The two students, dressed only in their underpants, were awakened in the night and tied up after Sonnex and Farmer climbed in through an open window.

The two killers stole game consoles, cell phones and bank cards.

Bonomo — who Farmer later said "just wouldn't die" — was stabbed 194 times and Ferez suffered 50 knife wounds, some of them after his death.

Hours later Farmer torched the apartment, leaving firefighters to find both victims bound at the ankles and wrists, and their heads wrapped in towels.

Detective Superintendent Mick Duthie said: "This was total carnage. It was almost like they were treated like animals."

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