kidnap trial | 

Victim of alleged kidnap plot by Cornelius Price gang over £300k ‘debt’ tells of ordeal

Two brothers were blindfolded, threatened with bullets to the head and having their fingers sliced off as they were held at a caravan site at Smithy Fen, Cambridgeshire, it is claimed.

Mark Kavanagh is one of the men on trial

Cornelius Price is too ill to stand trial

Court ReporterSunday World

A blackmail victim pretended he was driving around trying to find a £300,000 ransom to secure the release of brother when he was in a hotel room with police, a court in the UK has heard.

Danny Bridges, 41, Drogheda Mark Kavanagh, 34, Darren McLean, 37, Quincy Jarron Bramble, 33, and Lisa Marie Finnerty, 39, are on trial accused of the blackmail plot.

Cornelius Price, originally from Gormanstown, Co Meath, is unable to stand trial with his five alleged associates after suffering a brain injury.

Gang boss Price (40) moved to the UK after leaving Ireland following a wave of violence in Drogheda, Co Louth.

Gardai believe Price is a key figure in one of the two gangs involved in the so-called Drogheda feud.

The trial has heard claims that the two brothers were blindfolded, threatened with bullets to the head and having their fingers sliced off as they were held at a caravan site at Smithy Fen, Cambridgeshire.

The second brother was taken to London and released on 13 July, while his brother was kept captive, in the hope that he would help round up a ransom for his brother.

He travelled back from Euston station to Stoke-on-Trent and was taken to a hotel room by police, Wood Green Crown Court heard.

In a call with McLean on 14 July, the victim was heard asking for phone numbers for the gang.

He said: ‘I don’t want to mess anything up for my brother… please don’t hurt him.’

McLean suggested he explain his absence to his family by saying he and his brother had ‘been on a bender’.

In a call at 22:30 that night the victim asked his brother ‘are you definitely alright? They’re treating you the same and everything, nothing wrong?’

His brother replied: ‘Yeah I am man.’

The released brother said: ‘I been trying to sort sh*t out all day and waiting to hear from you. I don’t want to tell anyone cause they’ll get the feds and stuff.’

‘Feds are looking for us apparently. Someone said go tell them I’ve been on a bender and sh*t but I’m not gonna do that cause they’ll ask about you, think they’re gonna let me go after that?

‘I’m tying to sort sh*t out, trying to sort as much as I can, but all these f*cking d*ckheads are keeping you there.

‘All these d*ckheads locally don’t trust any of these f*ckers with anything. Don’t do anyone any favours, only people doing favours right now are people close.’

The witness told jurors he misled the gang and his brother into thinking he had been trying to raise funds, when he was in a hotel room with police who were recording the call.

Cornelius Price is too ill to stand trial

Prosecutor Anne Whyte asked if he felt he needed to persuade his brother as well as the gang.

He replied: ‘Yeah I did because I didn’t want to comprise anything.

'I didn’t want to say “I’m with the police, don’t worry” because I didn’t want his attitude to change or anything.

‘I didn’t tell him until he was out.’

He said he did make some calls to family and associates to try and secure money under the direction of the police, in case a cash drop was needed to secure his brother’s release.

On 16 July, armed police intercepted a yellow Transit van driven by Darren McLean leaving the Smithy Fen site.

The other brother was found lying on a mattress in the rear compartment of the van.

The brothers had been fed sleeping tablets, made to wash with Dettol spray and forced to call their relatives trying to get the money for their release, jurors have heard.

The prosecution say they were kidnapped after travelling to London to attempt to settle a debt.

Kavanagh, of Manchester, McClean, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, Bridges, also of Stourport-on-Severn, Finnerty, of Lancashire, Bramble, of Stepney Green, east London and McClean, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, 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 8 2020.

McClean pleaded guilty to two charges of driving whilst disqualified in July 2020.

The court previously heard Cornelius Price is too ill to stand trial due to a brain injury.

The trial continues.

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