BY NEWS REPORTER
A man who led a group which kidnapped and tortured a man who they wrongly suspected of stealing £40,000 worth of drugs has been jailed for 14 years
Kofi Francis, 23, of Whetstone Road, Greenwich was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday having in November last year been found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap, GBH with intent, robbery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
He will also be subject to an extended licence period of two years.
Francis’ sentencing follows the earlier jailing in December of Daren Davis, 27, of Bostall Hill, Greenwich, Daniel Edwards, 49, of Gilbourne Road, Greenwich and Daniel Cogger, 26, of no fixed abode, who were all part of the same offence.
Dillian Ode, 23, of Kirtley Road, Lewisham was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment on December 1, having been found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The court heard that at about 11.45pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the 22-year-old male victim was kidnapped at knifepoint in Plumstead, SE18 by the group, led by Francis.
He was wrongly suspected by the group of having stolen £30,000 to £40,000 of crack cocaine and heroin from a drugs safe house in Gilbourne Road, Plumstead, SE18. The gang wanted their drugs back and attacked the kidnapped victim with a knife as he was driven to a remote rural location in Southfleet, Kent.
Once in Kent, the man was beaten, tortured, robbed and stabbed by his captors in agricultural fields after midnight. Whilst the victim was being tortured, Edwards and Cogger were visiting an address in London attempting to recover the stolen drugs on instruction of Francis.
The victim’s ordeal came to an end through pure good fortune when the Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance helicopter flew over the fields testing its search light ahead of a response to an unrelated road traffic collision a mile away.
The group who had kidnapped the man mistook the Air Ambulance for police activity related to their actions.
They panicked and scrambled to get away, allowing the victim to run away into the darkness, and seek assistance whilst bleeding profusely from his injuries.
The victim was treated in hospital for serious stab wounds to the hands and is yet to fully recover from his injuries.
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service investigated the kidnapping and arrested Edwards on April 22 last year at his home in Gilbourne Road, Plumstead and located a drugs factory, and a substantial amount of crack cocaine in a safe within the address.
Detectives identified and arrested other members of the gang after communication between them was established, proving they were in contact with each other, placing them at key locations in London and in Kent.
The court heard how, whilst Francis was remanded in prison for this offence, he recruited an associate, Dillian Ode, where they conspired together and attempted to pay the victim £12,000 to withdraw his prosecution. However, the investigation team deployed undercover police officers to take over communication, thus thwarting their plan before any money was paid.
Detective Constable Andrew Payne, of the Greenwich Gangs Unit, said: “The court have rightly determined that Francis is a danger to the public, and have sentenced him to a significant term of imprisonment.
“The distribution of crack cocaine and heroin fuels violence on the streets of London; the victim was subjected to a horrific ordeal at the direction of Francis, and his co-defendants who have also been brought to justice.
“It is incomprehensible what the outcome could have been for the victim in this case, but for the good fortune of the helicopter passing overhead that allowed him to escape.
“I would like to praise the hard work of the Crown Prosecution Service, the prosecution counsel, and the bravery of the victim.”