Preston men were involved in conspiracy to kidnap criminal who they believed 'stole' proceeds of crime

Three men found guilty of hatching a bungled conspiracy plan to kidnap a criminal will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Gulam Saiyed, 55, of Albatross Street, Preston, was convicted of conspiracy to kidnap, alongside co defendants Alexander Gibbons, 41, of Meadowbrook Court, Oswestry, Shropshire, and John Powell, 67, of Great North Road, Leeds.

Crown Court

Crown Court

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Judge Simon Medland QC issued warrants for ringleader Mohammed Hanif Manjra, 53, of Regent Drive, Fulwood, Preston, and Muhammad Junaid Amjad, 37, of Gurney Crescent, Croydon, who fled to Pakistan last week.

Prosecuting, William Beardmore previously told Preston Crown Court that on August 25, 2017, victim Hassan Akhtar was kidnapped in Oldham, prompting a Lancashire Police probe called Operation Pelican.

In July and August 2017, Akhtar and his wife, Amer, made short trips to and from continental Europe to “transport the proceeds of crime” - the couple has since pleaded guilty to associated offences.

He added: “The Crown say Akhtar in particular, was acting under the direction of Manjra and to a lesser extent Amjad. It is the Crown’s case in early August 2017, Akhtar stole one of the consignments of criminal money that was intended to be transported to continental Europe.

“The Crown say the theft of illicit money was the motive for the conspiracy that developed thereafter.”

Those with an interest in the stolen money turned to Gibbons who was tasked with locating, observing, following and kidnapping Akhtar and getting back the cash.

Saiyed made arrangements to locate him, and drove to Oldham with Manjra so a tracking device could be secured to Akhtar’s vehicle.

Before 6.45am on August 25 Gibbons and Powell entered a Travelodge in Oldham and obtained the guest list and master key by Gibbons pretending to be a police officer. Moments later, they were seen dragging Akhtar outside.

Telephone evidence showed Manjra and Amjad in the vicinity, but Akhtar managed to escape and flagged down nearby police.

Gibbons and Powell were later arrested carrying out ‘surveillance’ of Akhtar’s wife.

In the car was Akhtar’s photo, knives, PAVA spray, gloves, duct tape, cable ties, a sword disguised as a walking stick and a piece of paper reading: ‘take target, tape mouth 1 st, then hands, behind back, once in vehicle, tape legs”.

The Akhtars did not give evidence during the case.

A charge against Rafiq Ahmed Adam, 56, of Goldfinch Street, Preston, will lie on file due to his poor health.

George Anthony Thomas, 62, of Welsh Walls, Oswestry, Shropshire, was cleared of involvement.

The other defendants will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday.

(proceeding)