After a trial lasting 7 weeks, a jury returned Not Guilty verdicts on two conspiracy to kidnap charges and for allegations of conspiracy to falsely imprison and conspiracy to blackmail.
The case was prosecuted by the Flying Squad under 'Operation Junin Grebe'. The allegation was that an 18 year old (JB) and his 17 year old girlfriend (EC) were driving away from their home and were 'boxed in' by a van and an Audi. JB claimed he was bundled into the back of the van, assaulted and held prisoner overnight without clothing in January. He was then taken to a flat where he was held hostage whilst demands were made to his brother for money, jewellery and drugs. He claimed his life was threatened. Armed police raided the flat and JB was taken to hospital.
Christopher Bertham represented the second Defendant (BB) who was the leading Defendant who asserted that the case actually concerned a fake kidnapping organised as a scam to extort his brother for money and drugs. It was asserted that JB and his associates organised the kidnapping and scam as JB was a drug dealer who was supplied by his brother, but his brother charged him more than some of his friends. Under cross-examination JB vigorously denied ever selling drugs but disclosure requests allowed the defence to examine JB's phone, that contained a large number of images of drugs that had been imported and distributed with associated messages and debtor 'tick' lists created by JB. Chris Bertham also challenged EC's account as CCTV appeared to show that EC had her phone when she could have called for help, but she failed to do so. JB was confused as to whether he too had his phone during the early stages of the alleged kidnap. Important inconsistencies were explored in cross-examination and in his speech Chris was able to demonstrate that JB was exposed as a liar and a dangerously manipulative witness; whereas EC had fallen from being the prosecution's best witness to become their worst.
Nine defendants were acquitted of all counts at Woolwich Crown Court.
Chris was instructed by Guven Ates at Morgan Has Solicitors.
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