March 14 2014 Latest news:
Monday, March 1, 2010
FOUR men were sentenced to a total of 47 years on Friday over the kidnapping of a 17-year-old girl from Cheshunt.
Cops offered the victim, who was a party to a plot to import cocaine, immunity in return to her evidence which helped nail the gang.
Officers from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit began their investigations on October 20, 2008, after the victim’s father said she had been taken and ransom demands ordered him transfer money to a member of the gang in Ghana. Armed cops later stormed an address in North London and freed the victim safely on October 22, 2008.
Five men were arrested at the property and its vicinity. Three of these men, 36-year-old David Bonsouw from Morley Avenue in Edmonton, Charles El Mawas, who is 20 and from Hallfield Estate in Westminster, and 24-year-old Kwadwo Agyei from Tower Gardens Road in Tottenham, were later charged with kidnap. No further action was taken against the other two men arrested.
Investigations continued and two other suspects believed to be involved in the kidnap, 29 year old Extol Powell from Fiske Court in Tottenham and Dwight Baker, aged 26 from Morley Avenue, were arrested in separate operations in London in early 2009 and subsequently charged.
During the case officers travelled to Ghana to secure evidence and develop intelligence against the gang there.
Prosecutors and police used “cutting-edge handling of evidence” which persuaded four of the five charged to plead guilty to charges of false imprisonment, blackmail and conspiracy to import cocaine immediately prior to trial.
David Bonsouw, Charles El Mawas and Kwadwo Agyei were all given sentences of 14 years and Dwight Baker was given five years at St Albans Crown Court.
The court heard the victim was taken hostage in an argument over drugs which the gang had planned to import into the country via Heathrow.
Detective Chief Inspector David Cestaro, of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said: “The unit not only employed cutting edge techniques during the live investigation, but drew on national expertise in handling complex prosecution issues. Deserving of special mention, for their handling of various sensitive and complex issues, is Hertfordshire Crown Prosecution Service.”
CPS Hertfordshire District Crown Prosecutor Tamsyn Wilcox said: “In conjunction with the police it was decided that it was appropriate to offer her an undertaking that her evidence would not be used against her and that she would not face prosecution for her involvement with the gang.”
She added: “This is the first time that CPS Hertfordshire has offered this type of immunity under section 72 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and it requires the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before it is offered.”