kidnap trial | 

Friend of man allegedly kidnapped by Cornelius Price gang ‘spoke to someone with Irish accent’

Cornelius Price is too ill to stand trial

Staff reporterSunday World

A friend of a kidnap victim, locked in the back of a van in a £300,000 blackmail plot, told a court how she became suspicious when he failed to return home.

Two brothers were threatened with bullets to the head and having their fingers sliced off as they were held at a caravan site at Smithy Fen, Cambridgeshire, jurors have heard.

Danny Bridges, 41, Mark Kavanagh, 34, Darren McClean, 37, Quincy Jarron Bramble, 33, and Lisa Marie Finnerty, 39, are part of a gang accused of the blackmail plot.

They were fed sleeping tablets, made to wash with Dettol spray and forced to call their relatives trying to get the money for their release, Wood Green Crown Court has heard.

The second brother was taken to London and released on 13 July 2020, Wood Green Crown Court has heard.

Anne Whyte, prosecuting, asked the witness, who cannot be named: 'What made you believe that he had been kidnapped?'

The woman told jurors: 'I was suspicious that he was not at home. He hardly ever stayed at a friend's house. It was pretty unusual staying at a friend’s house.’

Lawrence Henderson, defending McLean, read out parts of a statement she gave to the police in which the victim told her: "It’s me. It’s ok, don’t believe anything you read on social media”.’

Mark Kavanagh is one of the men on trial

‘I said it was all over social media that he was missing and he said that he was ok.’

Mr Henderson asked her about obtaining money for the victim.

She said: ‘I didn’t get any money and to be honest I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time.

‘For the most part in the witness statement when speaking about him you said he sounded normal or was his normal self.

'You don’t quite say he was joyous or anything, but he wasn’t telling you he was in any distress was he?’

The witness replied: ‘No, he didn’t.'

She said at one point she spoke to someone on the phone who had an Irish accent.

‘To be honest I didn’t quite understand what he was saying so I thought it was a foreign accent.'

Mr Henderson asked: ‘What sort of foreign accent?’

The woman replied: 'A bit of an Irish accent.'

Kavanagh, of Manchester, McClean, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, Bridges, also of Stourport-on-Severn, Finnerty, of Lancashire, Bramble, of Stepney Green, east London, all deny two charges of conspiracy to falsely imprison and two of conspiracy to kidnap, between 7 and 17 July 2020.

McClean and Bramble alone also deny two charges of kidnap on 8 July 2020.

Gang boss Cornelius Price, 40, originally from Gormanstown, Co Meath, Ireland, was due to stand trial with his five alleged associates, but is too ill to stand trial due to a brain injury.

The trial continues.

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