A “dangerous” gang leader of an organized crime group which kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured its victims with knives and boiling water has been jailed for 25 years.
Fortune Lawson, 27, led the gang of thugs who kidnapped one of their victims from outside his London home in November 2018 after he was seen wearing a Rolex watch in a Snapchat photo.
He was lured to meet Lawson under the pretense of discussing cannabis, but was instead subjected to a “frightening” eight-hour ordeal that included being stabbed and pouring boiling water on his abdomen and groin.
The victim was forced to arrange for money and the Rolex to be handed over before being released. He spent five days in hospital with “severe” injuries and had to undergo surgery three months later, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Friday.
Eight other gang members – all involved in at least one of the three plots – were also sentenced on Friday in the same court.
Another victim was waterboarded, beaten and forced to ask friends for a £50,000 ransom, while being threatened with guns and knives in a flat in Cardiff in December 2020.
He was taken to another stronghold in Hertfordshire, where the terrifying ordeal continued before he was finally rescued by armed police.
DNA evidence taken from the Cardiff flat led police to identify a second victim who had also been held against his will and repeatedly assaulted at the same address.
Davood Assadpour and Micaiah Marley were jailed for 15 years, Arnold Fumemeya and Alexis Mutesa for 13 years, Gideon Lawson for 12 years, Ahmed Omar for nine years, Stephen Isaac for six years and Denis Delishaj for eight years as and eight months for a phone in prison.
CPS Cymru-Wales public prosecutor Jenny Hopkins 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.”
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 down 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.”
Additional report from PA