FIVE members of a ruthless gang who, in a ‘chillingly inhumane’ act, cut off a kidnap victim’s finger to back up a ransom demand to his family over a drug debt have been handed life sentences.
And five other members of the gang who held their victim Damion Lowe captive for 32 hours without food or water, have been given prison sentences totalling almost 70 years.
The gang, who had come under surveillance soon after snatching Mr Lowe off the street at gunpoint, were arrested within minutes of dumping him in a ditch after the ransom was paid.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC said that on September 30, 2013, as 25-year-old Mr Lowe chatted to friends in Milverton Road, Coventry, a Vauxhall Combo van pulled up near them.
“The rear doors flew open and three men got out wearing balaclavas; and one of them had a handgun which he pointed at Damion Lowe’s face and said ‘If you move, I’ll kill you.’”
He was bundled into the van; a pillowcase put over his head and he was punched, kicked and hit with a metal bar as the van was driven to a garage at the rear of Lewis Poyser’s home.
Bound and gagged, he was held in the van without food or water for 32 hours, during which one of the gang told him: “If your family don’t give us the cash, I’ll kill you.”
He was also told he would be alright if his family did as they were told and paid £60,000.
The police recorded blackmail demands to Lowe’s family including one in which the caller threatened: “Next time I call you, if there’s no money the little finger’s coming off.”
Some time after that call the gang did cut off Damion’s little finger to ‘show they meant business and to reinforce their demands’.
The finger was put in a bag and left at a spot in Milverton Road to show his family they meant business.
Police kept the gang under surveillance and as soon as Mr Lowe had been returned to the family who paid a £20,000 ransom they swooped and arrested some of the defendants and seized the ransom money.
The rest of the gang were arrested soon after and brought to justice.
Appearing at Warwick Crown Court gunman Ricardo Grant pleaded guilty to kidnapping, having a firearm with intent, false imprisonment, blackmail and grievous bodily harm with intent.
Lemar Grant, Kofi Poyser, Kadeem Poyser and Jermaine Campbell admitted the same charges; and Ismaeel Akbar and Anthony McLeod admitted blackmail, false imprisonment and GBH with intent.
Yusuf Akbar, Ralph McLeod and Lewis Poyser denied those three charges, but were found guilty following a trial – and the case was then adjourned for all ten men to be sentence together.
In addition Anthony McLeod, Kofi Poyser, Lewis Poyser and Lemar Grant also pleaded guilty to a separate offence of causing GBH with intent following an earlier incident outside a city night club in which they brutally attacked a man, repeatedly kicking and stamping on his head, leaving him unconscious with blood pouring from his head.
The man suffered multiple facial fractures and bleeding on his brain, and when he was first rushed to hospital it was feared he could die.
At the resumed hearing Lewis Poyser (24) of Dovedale Avenue, Longford, Coventry, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano ordered him to serve a minimum of 13-and-a-half years, minus 339 days he has already spent in custody, before he can be considered for parole.
Lemar Grant (26) of Broad Park Road, Henley Green, Coventry, and Kofi Poyser (23) of Dovedale Avenue, Longford, Coventry, were both given life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years minus 480 days already served on remand.
McLeod (34) of Preston Court, Northampton, and his brother Ralph McLeod (37) of Belmont Road, Coventry, who are already serving jail terms for a drug conspiracy, were also given life sentences, with Anthony being ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years and Ralph nine years.
The judge had told them they are ‘a serious danger to the public.’
Of the others, Ricardo Grant (24) of Watcombe Road, Henley Green, Coventry, and Campbell (25) of Broad Park Road, Henley Green, were both jailed for 15 years.
Ismaeel Akbar (32) of Kingsbury Road, Tipton, was jailed for 14-and-a-half years; his brother Yusuf Akbar (33) of Wynn Street, Edgbaston, Birmingham, for 12 years; and Kadeem Poyser (21) of Browning Court, Wyken, Coventry, for 13 years.
Sentencing the gang, Judge de Bertodano said: “I have to deal with the ten of you for two quite separate crimes.
“The unifying feature of them is the shocking brutality with which both crimes were executed and the serious injuries caused. Both cases show a total disregard for humanity.”
Of the attack outside the night club, she told the four involved: “It is astonishing he was not killed.
“His head was described as misshapen and he suffered brain damage.
“This was a senseless, brutal and sustained attack on a man who was prone and unconscious.
“The second even graver matter involves all ten of you.
“This was a carefully-planned operation which was executed by all ten of you.
“This was cold-blooded gang violence of an extreme kind.
“The violence was chillingly inhumane and can properly be described as torture.”
The blood-staineed van where the victim was held captive.