Thugs jailed for kidnap and false imprisonment - Bedford

18/12/2014

Thugs in Halloween masks and armed with baseball bats attacked a man who had been lured to a secluded farmhouse at Elstow in Beds late at night in the hope of recovering a debt.

David Hill was beaten, bound, gagged, blindfolded and bundled into a van by his kidnappers, who took him to a flat in north London where he was held for 8 hours.

He eventually escaped and fled to a nearby convenience store where he locked himself in a room. He was "terrified" and a "crying wreck" and would only come out once the police convinced him they were genuine. 

Luton crown court heard today,Thursday, 18 December 2014,  that Mr Hill had been set up because it was believed he had stolen a £15,000 cannabis crop that was growing in outbuildings at Medbury Farm Cottage in Medbury Lane, Elstow.  A Husky dog called Shianne, that belonged to Vincent Aldridge who was renting the cottage, was also taken.

Aldridge, 37, of Cosy Farm, Charfield, Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, was convicted of kidnap and false imprisonment and was jailed for 8 years. Co-defendant Cem Erol, 23, of Levita House, Chalton Street, London NW1, pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 6 years. They both appeared at court today via a video link from Bedford jail.

Prosecutor Justin Rouse said that some weeks before the kidnap, the cottage was broken into and a cannabis crop worth £15,000 with stolen from outbuildings, along with the valuable husky dog. Suspicion fell on Mr Hill, who lived locally, and was owed £500 by Aldridge.

On 14 October last year Mr Hill was called by Aldridge, who he assumed was at the farm, and arranged to go there  to collect the money he was owed. In fact Aldridge was staying in a hotel in Brighton.

At around 11.30 that night, Mr Hill, accompanied by his girlfriend, drove to the cottage, which was in darkness. "He knocked on the door and there was an ambush. A number of masked men came out of a shed next to the cottage wearing Halloween masks and armed with baseball bats,"said the prosecutor.

Cem Erol, who was also financially involved in the cannabis farm, and two others, asked: "Where's the stash? Where's the dog?"

He was beaten with baseball bats and his feet were bound together with silver tape. The men blindfolded him and bound his arms and legs with gaffer tape and cable ties before placing him in the back of van.

The girlfriend, who had been bundled into the cottage and held in a downstairs loo, was placed in Hill's van and given the keys, but told she should not drive away for 20 minutes and that she should not call the police. She went to a friend's home and told them, but did not contact the police.

Mr Hill was put into another van and taken to an address in Tufnell Park, London. There he remained tied up and was guarded. At about 8 o'clock the next morning, when his captor was in the kitchen, he snapped the straps around his leg and ran out of the flat.  He ran into a nearby shop with a broken chair leg. "He was clearly terrified," said Mr Rouse.

He locked himself in a store room and would only come out once the police, who had been called by the shopkeeper, convinced him they were genuine by letting him hear their police radios.

Defence barrister Richard Storey said both men were "working under direction" at the cannabis farm. Erol had not been involved in the criminal justice system before and Aldridge had been battling an addiction to cocaine and crack.

Judge Richard Foster said Mr Hill had been left a "crying wreck". He said violence had been "used and threatened."

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