The “dangerous” leader of an organized crime gang who kidnapped and tortured their victims with knives and boiling water in exchange for cash and expensive jewelry has been jailed for 25 years.
One of 27-year-old Fortune Lawson's “terrified” victims, Mohamed Saroya, was abducted from outside his London home in November 2018 after he was seen wearing a Rolex watch in a Snapchat photo and was lured to meet Lawson under the guise that he was discussing. cannabis.
Judge Daniel Williams said this was nothing more than a “trick”, with Lawson, along with two others, instead kidnapping and torturing Mr Saroja until the watch and ransom were handed over.
The victim was terrorized for eight hours, including being stabbed multiple times, his eyes gouged out and boiling sugar water poured over his abdomen and groin, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Friday.
Mr Saroya was forced to call family members to arrange for money and the Rolex to be handed over before he was released.
The court heard he was found by his cousin and brother in a car park near Kenton railway station, but was unable to get into the car due to his “horrendous” injuries.
He was taken to Northwick Park Hospital, where he spent five days being treated for injuries including stab wounds to his arm and back, burns to his thighs, hand and knee and cuts and bruises, and had to undergo surgery for three months later.
Judge Williams said Lawson had “muscles” to carry out the kidnapping and “gophers” to collect the cash.
He said: “Mr Saroya had to go to hospital several times. The agony she endured is unimaginable.
“The extent of the torture completely broke him. It will change him and his family forever.”
Judge Williams said Lawson considered himself “intact” and had moved to Cardiff, where he ran a food business and had a girlfriend, but “didn't care about anything”.
In December 2020, Lawson struck again, kidnapping another victim, Ledio Ibrahimi under the pretense that they were smoking weed together.
Instead, he took him to an apartment in the city and doused him with water and beat him and threatened him with guns and knives and an “attack dog.”
Mr Ibrahimi was forced to phone a friend to arrange for £50,000 to be handed over to him, but the friend called South Wales Police to report a “life or death situation” and, unbeknownst to the kidnappers, hostage negotiators were monitoring the phone calls.
The victim was taken to another hold in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, where the terrifying ordeal continued before he was finally rescued by armed police, who found him with cable ties around his wrists “shaking and crying”.
DNA evidence taken from blood found in the Cardiff flat led police to identify another victim, Halim Vladi, who had also been held against his will and repeatedly assaulted at the same address.
Eight other gang members – all involved in at least one of the three plots – were also sentenced on Friday in the same court.
Davood Assadpour, 33, and Micaiah Marley, 30, were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Arnold Fumemeya and Alexis Mutesa, both 27, for 13 years. Gideon Lawson, 24, for 12 years. Ahmed Omar, 29, for nine years. Stephen Isaac, 66, for six years. and Denis Delishaj, 34, for eight years, plus eight months for having a phone in prison.
Assadpour “positioned himself as the professor” of the gang and played a leading role in torturing one of the victims, Judge Williams said, boasting that he was “Robin Woods” to a prison guard.
Marley also played a leading role, threatening one of the victims with a gun and sword, as did Fortune Lawson's brother Gideon.
Fumumeya and Mutesa were the “muscles” who transported one of the victims from Cardiff to Hemel Hempstead.
The court heard that Delishaj played a “significant role” in blackmailing Mr Ibrahimi, and while he was not involved in the kidnapping or torture, he was “on the other end of the phone” while it was happening and acted as a translator and ransom. negotiator to relay Lawson's “bad demands.”
Omar acted as a “lookout” outside Cardiff's flat and “knew exactly” what the rest of the gang were doing inside, Judge Williams said.
Isaac provided his flat in Hemel Hempstead as a ‘base' for the torture in exchange for drugs.
Judge Williams praised South Wales Police for their “hard work” in bringing the criminal gang to justice and noted the bravery of the victims who came forward.
Detective Superintendent Darren George, head of South Wales Police's Major Crime Squad, said: “This has been one of the UK's most complex kidnapping investigations in recent times and it has taken almost three years to convict these nine people.
“We hope our crackdown on this crime and the sentences handed out will send a clear message to those who intend to bring this kind of violence to our streets.
“We will hunt you down relentlessly with everything we have and you will go to jail.”
Jenny Hopkins, Crown Prosecution Service, CPS Cymru-Wales, said: “The torture suffered by the victims in this case is almost beyond belief. In their pursuit of money, those responsible were apparently willing to cause maximum inconvenience.
“The ringleader and mastermind, Fortune Lawson, planned the extortions like military operations. He targeted men he trusted and whom he recognized as possessing high-value goods or significant sums of money.
“Others in the gang had different roles – but each knew the terrifying ordeal the victims were going through. Everyone took precautions to avoid getting involved, including wearing masks, balaclavas and gloves.
“Thankfully, these dangerous and violent men have been brought to justice, but the suffering of the victims and the impact of their injuries continues.
“I want to express my utmost gratitude to the victims for their courage in coming forward and giving evidence in this case which ultimately allowed us to secure convictions.”
The full list of crimes:
– Fortune Lawson: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment, one count of extortion in relation to two victims. He was also convicted of one count of kidnapping and one count of false imprisonment in relation to a third victim.
– Davood Assadpour: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Micaiah Marley: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Arnold Fumumeya: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment, one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Alexis Mutesa: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Gideon Lawson: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Ahmed Omar: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.
– Denis Delishaj: Convicted of one count of extortion (relating to a victim) and one count of possession of a mobile phone in prison without a licence.
– Stephen Isaac: Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of extortion in relation to two victims.