Kidnap gang jailed after subjecting men to savage torture
Members of an armed gang which kidnapped and brutally tortured a man for 27 hours have been imprisoned for between 25 and six years.
At a flat in Cardiff the victim was waterboarded, beaten and forced to ask friends to provide a £50,000 ransom, while being threatened with guns and knives.
He was taken to another stronghold in Hertfordshire where the horrifying ordeal continued. He was eventually rescued by armed police.
DNA evidence obtained from the Cardiff flat led police to identify a second victim who had also been held against his will and repeatedly assaulted at the same address.
The ringleader, Fortune Lawson, was sentenced today for masterminding both plots as well for the kidnap, false imprisonment and torture of a third victim in London two years earlier.
That man was terrorised for eight hours including being stabbed multiple times and having boiling water poured on him. He was forced to arrange for money and a Rolex watch to be handed over before being released. He spent five days in hospital and had to undergo surgery three months later.
Eight other members of the gang – all having been involved in at least one of the plots - were also sentenced today at Cardiff Crown Court.
Jenny Hopkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Cymru-Wales, said:
“The torture suffered by the victims in this case is almost beyond belief. In their pursuit of money, those responsible were seemingly willing to inflict maximum suffering.
“The ringleader and mastermind, Fortune Lawson, planned the extortions like military operations. He targeted men who trusted him and who he had identified as possessing high-value goods or significant amounts of money.
“Others in the gang had varying roles – but each was aware of the terrifying ordeal the victims were being put through. They all took steps to avoid being implicated, including wearing masks, balaclavas and gloves.
“Thankfully these dangerous and violent men have now been brought to justice, but the suffering of the victims and the impact of their injuries goes on.
“I want to express my utmost gratitude to the victims for their courage in making statements and giving evidence in this case which ultimately enabled us to secure convictions.”
Plot A – Cardiff and Hemel Hempstead
Ringleader Lawson tricked the first victim by picking him up and driving him to a flat at Odet Court, Cardiff, under false pretences on 11 December 2020.
Upon entry the victim was pounced on by other members of the gang, one wielding a gun and another a knife. He was stripped, bound, beaten and waterboarded over a prolonged period. Waterboarding is a form of torture in which a person has large amounts of water poured over their face, leaving the victim feeling they are drowning.
Later that night he was put in an Audi Q5 and transported to a flat in Livingstone Walk, Hemel Hempstead, while blinded and handcuffed.
Members of the gang continued to threaten and intimidate, while again waterboarding the victim and pushing his head into a toilet. A dangerous attack dog was also used to control and frighten the victim.
An agreement was reached between the victim’s captors and his friend to pay £50,000 for his release, with the money to be collected from Bristol.
However, unbeknown to the gang, the victim’s friend had reported the kidnapping to the police the previous night. Specialist hostage negotiators had overseen the ransom discussions and enquiries had led police to identify where he was now being held.
Officers raided the Hemel Hempstead flat at the same time as the agreed money drop and found the victim bound, shaking and with obvious signs of having been assaulted.
Plot B – Cardiff
Police identified a second victim from DNA at the Cardiff flat. He would reveal he had also been held against his will and subjected to violent assaults.
He had also been pounced upon by several men after arriving at the address. He was threatened with a knife, wounded to the head and told to remain silent.
From their accounts, investigators discovered that the victims of Plot A and Plot B had been held in the flat at the same time. Lawson had even asked one to interpret what the other was saying.
Plot C - London
Lawson was also sentenced today for the kidnap and false imprisonment of a man in London in November 2018.
The victim was a man Lawson had befriended months earlier. He aimed to obtain high-value goods he had seen on the victim’s social media posts.
After being picked up in Harrow in a Mercedes GLE, the victim was beaten and slashed while still in the car. His eyes were gouged.
He was taken to a house where he was punched and kicked by Lawson’s henchmen. Boiling water was poured on his groin.
Under threats of further violence, the victim was made to phone his brother so that £5,000 could be collected, placed in a bag and left for an associate of the gang to collect. Later, the victim was forced to arrange for a Rolex watch to be left in a bag and this was collected also.
After eight hours, the victim was finally released. He attended Northwick Park Hospital. His injuries ranged from stab wounds to burns across his arm, abdomen, thighs, knee and groin.
The gang were sentenced today as follows:
- Fortune Lawson (DOB 8/3/96): the ringleader, involved in all three plots. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Also convicted of: 1x kidnap, 1x false imprisonment in relation to Plot C. Extended sentence of 30 years - 25 years in custody with an extended licence of five years.
- Davood Assadpour (DOB 10/5/90): played a leading role. Involved in the torture of Plot A victim. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Extended sentence of 19 years - 15 years in custody with an extended licence of four years.
- Micaiah Marley (DOB 24/10/93): played a leading role. Threatened Plot A victim with a gun and a sword. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Extended sentence of 19 years - 15 years in custody with an extended licence of four years.
- Arnold Fumumeya (DOB 17/5/96): The ‘muscle’. Transported Plot A victim from Cardiff to Hemel Hempstead. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Extended sentence of 16 years - 13 years in custody with an extended licence of three years.
- Alexis Mutesa (DOB 21/2/96): The ‘muscle’. Transported Plot A victim from Cardiff to Hemel Hempstead. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Extended sentence of 16 years - 13 years in custody with an extended licence of three years.
- Gideon Lawson (DOB 8/5/99): Fortune Lawson’s brother who played a leading role. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Extended sentence of 15 years - 12 years in custody with an extended licence of three years.
- Ahmed Omar (DOB 11/6/94): Acted as a lookout at the Cardiff flat. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 2x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Sentenced to a total of nine years in custody.
- Denis Delishaj (DOB 15/12/88): Acted as the ransom negotiator in Plot A. Convicted of: 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A) and 1x possessing a mobile phone in prison without authorisation. Sentenced to a total of eight years and eight months in custody.
- Stephen Isaac (DOB 6/1/57) : Allowed the gang to use his address for torturing Plot A victim. Convicted of: 2x kidnap, 3x false imprisonment, 1x blackmail (relating to victims of Plot A and B). Sentenced to a total of six years in custody.
Notes to editors
- Fortune Lawson, Davood Assadpour, Micaiah Marley and Stephen Isaac were tried and convicted. Verdicts were reached on 27/4/23 (plot A and B).
- Denis Delishaj pleaded guilty on 9/5/23 (plot A).
- Arnold Fumumeya, Gideon Lawson, Alexis Mutesa and Ahmed Omar were separately tried and convicted. Verdicts were reached on 26/6/23 (plot A and B).
- Fortune Lawson pleaded guilty to the plot C offences on 16/10/23.