A gang of men who kidnapped and beat a Peterborough man while demanding his family pay a £20,000 ransom have been jailed for more than 40 years.
Varldo Arujo, Jordan Bolowa, Jonathan Lukeba, Luca D’Agostino and Hamilton De Jesus tied up the man, covering his head, beat him up and threatened - and attempted - to sexually assault him with a crowbar after carrying out their terrifying plot on November 14 last year.
The gang - which also included ‘scout’ Jay Couto - phoned their victim’s family, demanding thousands of pounds in cash - and only released the man after they had received £11,000.
But they did not realise police were onto them after being alerted by the victim’s brother - and had tracked the taxi taking them to the cash pick up point, and back to their ‘stronghold.’
The gang were eventually arrested and charged with conspiracy to kidnap - and today (Friday) they were sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court.
Bolowa (25) of Delves Way, Hampton, Peterborough, was jailed for 12 years, Lukeba (23), also of Delves Way was jailed for nine years, De Jesus (18) of Lincoln Road, Peterborough, was jailed for 10 years, D’Agostino (18) of Emperor Way, Peterborough, was jailed for six years, and Aruajo, (27) of Osier Avenue, Hampton, was jailed for nine years. Couto (19) of Heron Park, Peterborough, described as a ‘scout’ for the group and was not involved in the violence and was not at the house when the kidnap took place - was jailed for three years,
There were tears in the dock - and the packed public gallery, filled with friends and family of the gang members - as Judge Sean Enright passed sentence.
Judge Enright said there were elements of torture and humiliation in the case.
Claire Matthews, prosecuting, told the court: “On November 14 at about 7pm, the victim arranged to meet D’Agostino to buy a watch.
“They arranged to meet in the Bringhurst area in Orton Goldhay.
“The defendant arrived at 7.45pm, and called D’Agostino to say he was there.
“D’Agostino got into the car’s front seat - with De Jesus getting into the rear. De Jesus began choking the victim, and D’Agostino started to bind his hands with tape. Reference was made to a knife.
“The victim managed to struggle free and he ran up the road - but he was chased by a number of males, including the two in the car.
“Two people grabbed him by the arms and two by the legs, and he was taken to a flat in Bringhurst.
“Demands were made for money - the males said he was not leaving until they had been paid.
“The victim was thrown to the floor, and assaulted. The men wen through his pockets, and took a designer watch. A pillow case was placed over his head.”
Miss Matthews said threats were made regarding the crow bar, and the victim’s trousers and boxer shorts were removed. One of the men sat on top of the man, attempting to sexually assault him with the metal bar.
The victim was then tied to a chair, and threats were made to boil water and sugar, and pour it over him. Threats involving knives were also made.
Phone calls were then made to his family - with his brother - who was taking the calls - able to hear the victim being assaulted in the background.
The family managed to collect about £11,000, and it was taken to Hampton Avenue, and left in a car boot. However, the brother of the victim had informed police, and they were waiting for the gang’s taxi when it arrived at the drop off point.
The victim was eventually released at about 5am - when he was tied up in a car, and left, with the gang having given instructions to the victim’s brother on where to collect him.
Further surveillance was carried out, and three of the men were arrested at a house in Paston by armed police that morning. When officers attended house, and made the kidnappers aware they were present, they heard the sounds of flushing toilets as the gang tried to dispose of the money - however, they found more than £10,000 at the property.
The court was told how the group had thoroughly prepared for their plot, securing the Bringhurst property they day before. One of the gang had asked the owner of the house if he could stay, as he had no-where to live - but the other members of the gang soon arrived, and the landlord was told to ‘go upstairs and stay there.’
He heard the sound of the assaults - but when he tried to go downstairs, he was told to turn around and go back.
When he was able to finally go downstairs, he found latex gloves, a chair with tape, and blood.
Couto had also scouted out the cash drop off point hours before it was used.
When they were arrested, all the gang either denied involvement in the plot, or gave no comment to officers.
Bolowa and Couto were found guilty after denying their involvement at a trial. The other four members of the gang pleaded guilty.
All defendants except Couto had previous convictions.
Miss Matthews said the case had more than one victim - the man who was kidnapped and assaulted, and his family who were ‘put through hell.’
Defence barristers for the gang said many of the defendants were young, and could make a positive impact on society - which Judge Enright agreed with, saying: “All are young men with the capacity to change. It reminds of just how young and immature you are.”
He also said because the victim had a pillow case over his head, he had been unable to identify which defendants had carried out the assault, and there was no evidence who was the leader of the gang.
Police officers who worked on the case were given a commendation by Judge Enright.