Together they operated a regime of fear and control, detaining two young men for months on end, beating and starving them.

Now the man and woman have been jailed for at least nine and a half years and nine years respectively for their acts of "needless violence" against their victims, who were aged around 18 and 25 at the time.

The de facto couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, detained one man for about 18 months between 2007 and 2009 and the other for five months in 2010.

They were each found guilty of detaining the men to obtain psychological control and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at a District Court trial in Sydney last year.

The man also pleaded guilty to soliciting an undercover police officer to murder one of the victims, with the court hearing he used his 17-year-old daughter to help arrange a payment of up to $1000 for the contract killing.

The court heard the men were beaten with metal bars, wooden chairs and baseball bats on a daily basis, forced to do household chores and clean up after the couple's pitbull terriers.

They were often only allowed three pieces of white bread during the day and one man was forced to sleep in a child's cubby house.

The court heard each man was "terrified" of their captors, who threatened the men and their families and told them the house was under constant surveillance.

Their finances were controlled and each man was forced to write letters confessing to false accusations that they were pedophiles who had been "perving" on the couple's children.

By the time they were released, each man was severely emaciated, with one weighing 43kg and the other 45kg.

One was hospitalised for four weeks, suffering from malnutrition and multiple facial, spinal and rib fractures.

Sentencing the 48-year-old man and 43-year-old woman on Friday, Judge Zahra said it was difficult to understand why they engaged in such a pattern of violence involving "a high degree of callousness and cruelty".

"They acted together to impose a regime of fear and control," he said.

He set a maximum term of 13 years for the woman and 13 and a half years for the man.

Taking into account time served, they will be eligible for parole in 2019 and 2020, with both saying they do not intend to resume their relationship upon release.

Some of their children were in court for the sentence.