Four Preston gang members accused of kidnapping a teenager in the city centre late at night admit affray

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The four, part of a group of seven, surrounded the terrified boy and “frogmarched” him around the streets before he managed to escape.

Four men from a Preston gang accused of kidnapping a teenager in the city centre late at night have appeared before the city’s Crown Court on a reduced charge of affray.

The four, part of a group of seven who surrounded the terrified boy and “frogmarched” him around the streets before he managed to escape, all pleaded guilty to the lesser offence in front of Judge Philip Parry.

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Three, Aiden Wilding, 19, Jordan Middleton, 24, and Cameron Parkinson, also 24, were all spared jail and instead handed a community order.

The fourth, 20-year-old Kian Booth, was given six months in a young offenders’ institution to add to a further two-year sentence for a separate case of robbing two other teenagers of their motorbikes in Blackpool.

Three other members of the gang were said by Judge Parry to have escaped “scot-free” after a trial for kidnap and robbery collapsed in February after the victim failed to turn up in court to give evidence.

The court heard that the boy had visited a newsagent store in Church Street, Preston on his bike at around 2:30am in August 2023 to buy some crisps and a vape. Parkinson and Wilding challenged him outside the shop as asked him: “Who are you grafting for.”

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Four gang members accused of kidnapping a teen were caught on camera.Four gang members accused of kidnapping a teen were caught on camera.
Four gang members accused of kidnapping a teen were caught on camera. | Lancashire Police

Barrister Peter Parr, prosecuting, said the question meant who was he dealing drugs for. The pair then “patted him down” to search him for drugs or cash.

The incident was captured on CCTV and shown in court. Mr Parr said the boy believed he was being threatened. Two others in the group of seven got hold of the boy, one of them grabbing him around the neck.

Wilding was then seen to pick up the boy’s bike and his bag of shopping and ride off. He was caught on another camera taking the bike into a block of flats in Church Street where he was living at the time.

Footage showed the boy being surrounded by the seven men and then being marched off along Church Street, up Church Walk past the Blitz nightclub and eventually to Ringway, near to the old Rock FM building, where the group started kicking at the door of a house.

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Mr Parr said the boy told police he decided that was his chance to run. "I was genuinely scared for my life," he admitted. He made a dash for freedom and raced back to his mother’s house.

Because of the clarity of CCTV pictures police were quickly able to identify the men involved and made arrests the following day.

In interviews Parkinson denied robbery or kidnap. Wilding initially denied involvement. But did accept that he was present.

Middleton told officers: “I wasn’t there, I’m innocent.” And Booth gave “no comment” answers to all questions.

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All seven men were charged with kidnap, robbery and assault. But before the case reached Crown Court an alternative charge of affray was added to the indictment in a bid to avoid a lengthy trial, to which four tendered guilty pleas.

When the victim refused to attend court the case was abandoned with the other three, who had maintained pleas of not guilty, allowed to go free.

“On the day (of the trial) the complainant failed to attend and a decision was made that there would be no end product,” explained Mr Parr.

Tom Lord, for Booth, said his client had an “unstructured lifestyle” and had been heavily into drugs. “He was high at the timed of this offence,” he said. “It was a very frightening experience (for the victim).”

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He added that Booth had a “sincere and genuine desire to change.”

Preston Crown Court Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

Bob Elias, representing Parkinson, said he was not part of any drug gang or organised crime group. He was just a user of drugs.

He claimed that Parkinson had not played any part in any violence or threats against the boy and was only there on the fringes of the incident.

“It was bullying. Bullying is unpleasant. He stupidly got involved in the excitement of the altercation.

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“It is time (for him) to make a positive start. He has had a substantial time in custody and I would say he has served long enough.”

Sarah Magill, for Middleton, said her client had “an horrendous background with lots of serious convictions for serious offences.” He had served a four-year sentence in a young offenders institution.

“He has had an extremely difficult childhood and has had a fight on his hands to grow up,” she said.

“Others who played the system (the three who escaped a court appearance) won. He (Middleton) is absolutely desperate not to go into custody again. He was tempted by the excitement of the moment.”

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Wilding’s counsel Christopher Hudson said the bicycle he took was actually his. He had sold it to the boy a month earlier for £75, but had not been paid for it, so he simply took it back. "He is a young, foolish man. He had no previous convictions."

Mr Hudson said the men who had avoided a court case had been the chief culprits in the incident. Wilding had simply “fallen in with undesirable associates.”

“There is a perceived inequality and unfairness here,” he added. “But these (four) defendants will have to live with it.”

Judge Parry gave Wilding, of Larches Lane, Ashton a 12-month community order with a requirement to complete up to 20 days of rehabilitation activity and 50 hours of unpaid work.

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Parkinson, of Lockside Road, Ingol and Middleton from Franklands Drive, Preston were also given 12-month community orders, but with 30 days of rehabilitation activities and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Booth, of Chaffinch Manor, Broughton, was given a two-year sentence for the Blackpool robberies and six months to run consecutively for his involvement in the Preston incident, which was committed whilst on bail.

Judge Parry told them: “You surrounded this young lad in an act of intimidation by all seven of you. I have no doubt drugs lay behind what was going on.

“All seven were initially charged with more serious offences, kidnapping, robbery and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

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“Over the course of time you all denied them so it was set down for a trial to take place in February. In January negotiations began to see if it could be resolved without a trial. And at the beginning of February there was a formal charge of affray.

“As far as court is concerned you all denied any wrongdoing at all from first to very nearly last. In the very least you had the decency to plead guilty to criminal behaviour. But three of your group continued to deny they were criminally involved, clearly on the basis that (the boy) wouldn’t attend the trial.

“They were clearly right, so the prosecution unfortunately had to offer no evidence. So three walked away scot-free.

“You did the right thing (by pleading guilty).” And he said that had “just about” spared them from going to prison.

“Sometimes it does pay to do the right thing.”