Serving soldier jailed for kidnap - Luton

14/10/2014

A serving soldier who became besotted with his wife's best friend, kidnapped the woman so that he could talk to her.

Garry Smith, a married father of three, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan put together a kidnap kit including a cloth soaked in chloroform. Smith had come obsessed with 30-year-old Dagmara Barcz after meeting her though his wife.

At first the pair had messaged each other on Facebook. But when Miss Barcz decided she wanted to cool things between them, 32-year-old Smith, a Bombardier with 16 Regiment Royal Artillery hatched a his plot to grab her off the street and bundle her into his car.

Today, Tuesday, 14 October 2014, at Luton Crown Court, Judge Phillip Bartle was told it was only the intervention of a neighbour of Miss Barcz who had seen Smith drag her into his vehicle, that stopped him driving off with her.

Smith, a soldier in the British Army for 12 years was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to a single charge of kidnapping Miss Barcz from outside her flat in Handcross Road, Luton, Beds on 05 July this year.

Judge Bartle told Smith: "Undoubtedly you caused her appalling harm and anguish. It's said you didn't intend to harm a hair on her head, That's precisely what you did, Mr Smith. You hurt her by tieing her up and causing her to be terrified."

The judge said the actions of the woman's neighbour, John Purcell, who had rushed from his own flat to rescue her had been an act of "remarkable bravery."

Ann Evans, prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution SErvice (CPS) said Dagmara, a Polish national, who had lived in the UK for nine years, had been a childhood friend of the defendant's wife, Joanna. Over the years the women lost touch with one another, but at the end of 2013, Dagmara made contact with her friend and made two trips to visit her and her husband and their children at Oakham near Rutland Waters where he was based with his regiment.

The court heard around March of this year she split up with her boyfriend and Smith began messaging her on Facebook. "He would send her pictures of women who looked like her and that made her uncomfortable. She messaged him that she would rather he not do this," said Miss Evans. She said: "Two pictures in particular made her feel very uncomfortable, one of a totally naked female resembling her crouching down, and another female on the floor in front of a fireplace with little clothing on."

The prosecutor said Miss Barcz had once sent him a picture of a woman who looked like herself in a black dress with a coat and high heels, but on reflection realised it was not a good idea. Miss Evans said that Smith sent the woman gifts, and when he was in the Falklands, sent her a Penguin called Garry. Then he sent her a a black mini dress which she thought was more like underwear.

Miss Evans went on: "She told him she was not happy with this and at that point decided to stop contacting him. At some point during the messages she remembers he admitted having a crush on her. Chocolates and roses arrived at the woman's flat from Smith, the court was told.

The prosecutor said after discovering Miss Barcz no longer wanted anything to do with him, Smith hatched his plot to kidap her. First he stole a set of number plates from a vehicle similar to his own black Ford Galaxy 7 seater. This was to disguise his car on the day of the planned snatch. He had a sheet of tarpaulin laid down in the car so that he could prevent any forensic traces of her transferring onto the interior. He had cable ties to hand cuff her with, a leather belt with a golf ball that was to be used as a gag, a boiler suit, blacked out goggles, gaffer tape and survival type items. In the car there was a pick axe and a knife along with a rope.

The court heard as Miss Barcz left her flat at around 6am on the morning of 05 July this year, Smith was waiting and followed her to her car. As she opened the door, about to get in, he put the cloth soaked in Chloroform over her face. He managed to drag her into his car with all its rear seats collapsed and she noticed he was wearing latex gloves.

"Once she had been pushed into his car, he got into the back with her and pulled the boot shut so that she was trapped inside. He then produced the cable ties. He told her that they would talk as she continued to struggle," said the prosecutor.

Miss Evans said Smith managed to tie the woman's hands and then attempted to put the golf ball attached to the belt into her mouth. The court heard it was at this point that Mr Purcell, who had seen what was happening from his own flat, ran to the woman's rescue and began banging on the window of the Galaxy.

"He opened the boot and he saw a man crouching over Dagmara holding her arms. Smith lunged towards Mr Purcell and Miss Barcz was able to struggle free from the car. The soldier was forced to drive off and the police were alerted. He was traced to Louth and arrested. Smith told officers he had bought butane gas intending to commit suicide.

David Healy, defending, said Smith had been regarded as one of the best Junior Non Commissioned Officers in his regiment and a model soldier. He said Smith had become obsessed with his victim adding: "He fell madly in love with her in simple terms. He accept he got the wrong signals. He believed for a while these feeling were reciprocated. Clearly they were not. He undertook this mission to talk to her and find out what had gone wrong."

Judge Bartle said: "He chose a method that would have terrified her."

In addition to the five year jail sentence, Smith was also made the subject of a life long restraining order not to contact Miss Barcz.

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