Removal man 'staged kidnapping and demanded ransom from his pregnant girlfriend so he could get drunk with pals'

Blackpool Magistrates Court
Blackpool Magistrates Court

A removal man from Blackpool staged his own kidnap and demanded a ransom from his pregnant girlfriend so he could get drunk with his mates, a court has heard.

Leigh Ford's frantic girlfriend called in police after getting a series of terrifying phone calls from his two 'kidnappers' and paid £80 - what was left of her benefits - into a bank account.

A major police operation was launched, costing £30,000 and lasting 24 hours, before CCTV footage showed the trio leaving a shop carrying booze and the sham was exposed, magistrates were told.

Ford, 45, of Horncliffe Road, South Shore, admitted wasting police time and collapsed in the dock as he was jailed for 16 weeks today.

Magistrate Ian Robertson said: "We have got to send out a clear message that this sort of waste of police resources must not happen.

"The police were not the only victims of your stupidity. So was your partner, who now faces having a baby whilst you are in prison."

The court was told Ford's 'captors' - his drinking buddies - bundled him into the back of a van after bundling a bag over his head on January 28.

Ford was then heard screaming in the background after the pair called his girlfriend and threatened to cut off one of his legs, pour boiling sugar and water over his body, and mutilate his genitals.

She called in police, sparking a probe that involved armed officers, a helicopter, and specialist negotiators.

Prosecutor Pam Smith said: "[The girlfriend] saw her partner leave their home to get some food for their Sunday tea.

"She became worried when he had not returned as that was not normal behaviour.

"She then got a series of calls on her landline demanding money.

"She could hear Ford screaming in the background as two men made their demands."

After being spotted by police limping down his street, the court was told Ford was 'taken aback' that his girlfriend had called in officers, but continued to lie - until being confronted with the video evidence.

Stephen Duffy, defending, said: "The whole kidnap story had been made up by Ford to get his hands on a small amount of money.

"He had no idea what the police reaction was going to be. He was stupid and it was out-of-character.

"Whilst he was out shopping he came across an old friend who had fallen on hard times and he wanted to help him out.

"This is a bizarre case... a prank which went totally wrong."