Man nicknamed 'Blazer' denies kidnap allegation

Malvern Avenue
Malvern Avenue

A man accused of conspiring to kidnap a Preston dad has taken to the witness stand to plead his innocence.

Luke Anderson, 24, of Samuel Street, Callon, Preston, is accused of conspiring to kidnap Abid Umar, 36, and demanding £100,000 from his family for his safe return, along with co-defendants Aaron Hampson, 25, of Pump Street, Preston, and co-defendants Stephen Helm, 34, of Stockdale Crescent, Bamber Bridge.

Jordan Fowler, 21, of no fixed abode, has pleaded guilty to being part of a conspiracy to kidnap and blackmail.

Anderson was arrested outside a friends house in Blackburn in March after the Lancashire Police investigation uncovered text messages and a phone linked to someone called "Blazer" - his known nickname.

The prosecution says cell siting evidence showed a phone linked to Anderson was in the vicinity of Frenchwood in Preston - where Mr Umar was kidnapped from - and in the area of Bamber Bridge at a time the prosecution say a Lexus car used in the kidnap was being sold.

Jurors were told he made previously a prepared statement saying the phone number in question is "nothing to do with me" and "I'm not the Blazer mentioned in these offences".

Under cross examination, barrister Mark Rhind asked why he had made this statement.

Anderson, wearing a blue suit in the witness stand at Preston's Sessions House court, replied: " I didn't believe it was my phone. I have never been around Frenchwood for an hour, there is no reason for me to be."

Mr Rhind said: "So let's be clear, the officer was telling you a phone associated with you had been cell sited in Frenchwood before the kidnap and at the purchase of a Lexus and you say you knew you hadn't been there at those times?"

Anderson replied: "Or at the time of the kidnap.

The trial was previously told the 36-year-old victim was kidnapped on January 25 from Malvern Avenue in Frenchwood, by four men, all in dark clothing. He screamed and tried to run away but was punched and bundled into a Lexus.

He was held for 15 hours before being released, and while he was held demands for money were made for his release, or else he would be harmed.

During the ordeal it is alleged he was told to get into the boot before being taken to a field where he lost a shoe, told to take off his trousers.

He was released in Hoghton, near Preston just after 11.30am, with his hands were still tied together and visible injuries.