Violent gang jailed after torturing kidnapped victims in Belsize Park flat
PUBLISHED: 17:36 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:29 18 May 2015
Members of a violent gang that used a flat in Belsize Park to torture kidnapped victims by burning them with irons and boiling water have been jailed.
Courtney Bishop, Nigel Bishop, Keith Walker and Allan Smith, along with a fifth man, Christopher White, had variously been found guilty following a trial at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Offences - relating to the torture of two men in May 2013 - included: conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to falsely imprison, conspiracy to blackmail, GBH, and conspiracy to burgle.
The gang – described by police as treating kidnap and torture “as a business” – administered such serious beatings on their victims that they suffered serious burns, a broken eye socket and kidney failure.
Their conviction followed an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Human Trafficking & Kidnap Unit.
The court heard how on May 3, 2013, the first victim, a 27-year-old man, had been kidnapped from the street outside his home in Upper Holloway, bundled into the back of a car and driven off. The victim’s head was covered but he got the impression he had been taken to a flat in a tower block, remembering the car park and the lift he was taken up in.
Whilst in the flat he was tied up and over the next 12 hours he had a sock shoved in his mouth, a pillow case put over his head and was beaten, causing a broken eye-socket. He was also burnt on various parts of his body with an iron and boiling water.
Family and friends were contacted to raise money for a ransom to secure his release.
Eventually he was released, being taken from the flat and dumped in Chalk Farm. The victim subsequently found they had used his keys to burgle his home.
Two days later, on May 5, 2013, a second man, aged 24, was kidnapped from inside his own home in Enfield. Due to trauma he was then subjected to, he remembers little of what happened to him; other than his head was mostly covered, a sock was shoved in his mouth, he was assaulted with an iron bar and subjected to torture, resulting in serious burns and kidney failure.
His family were contacted and threatened that his fingers would be cut off if they didn’t pay the ransom of £30,000 that eventually saw him released. He awoke in the backseat of his own car somewhere not far from Brent Cross and spent the next four days recovering in intensive care.
After a description was given by the first victim of the tower block flat he was held in having a distinctive circular window and views of Wembley Stadium, it led to detectives scouring areas and identifying the property.
The “stronghold” the defendants used to hold the victims was found to be a flat in Dorney tower block in Adelaide Road, Belsize Park.
Fingerprints found at this address then linked one of the gang members, Courtney Bishop, to the stronghold. Mobile phone analysis also linked Courtney Bishop to the other defendants at various points during the offences.
Courtney Bishop was also caught on CCTV from a Costcutters in south London where the family of the second victim had been sent to as part of paying the ransom.
Nigel Bishop was found to have to hired a car that was not only caught on automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) during the time of the offences, but identified as having been used by the defendant to collect the ransom money from the second victim’s family.
Four of the gang were sentenced together, with White due to be sentenced at a later date at the Old Bailey.
All five men, who are unemployed, were arrested over two days in October last year.
Courtney Bishop, 27, of Dunelm Grove, Lambeth, was jailed for a total of 24 years and Christopher White, 29, of Bute Road, Croydon, will be sentenced at a later date. Both were convicted on 10 counts against both the victims (five on each victim).
Nigel Bishop, 27, of Dunelm Grove, Lambeth, was jailed for a total of 14 years after being convicted in relation to the second victim. He was found not guilty in relation to offences against the first victim.
Allan Smith, 28, of Tufnell Park Road, Islington, was jailed for a total of 11 years after being convicted in relation to the first victim. He had not been charged in relation to the second.
Keith Walker, 35, of Lindsey Close, Mitcham, was jailed of total of 14 years after being convicted in relation to the second victim. He had not been charged in relation to the first.
Detective Sergeant Tim Mustoe, the officer in the case, said: “The defendants were members of a violent gang that treated kidnap and torture as a business. They had no regard for the impact their offending had on the victims or the victim’s families. These convictions demonstrate the commitment of the MPS to tackle violent criminals and bring them to justice.”