A kidnap victim had a sawn-off shotgun placed inside his mouth after being badly beaten by a gang determined to extort money from him.
All three defendants have now admitted their part in the chilling gangster-style episode which left Marc Williams, 24, from Huntington with a broken leg and bruising so bad he was “almost unidentifiable” when found crawling in the road by a passing taxi driver.
Luke John Huston, 24, Allington Place, Handbridge, Chester, Kieran Salkeld, 22, from Llwyn Alun, Hope, and Stevan Sanders, 25, of no fixed address, will be sentenced on April 11 in a case which shocked the community.
Victim Mr Williams was eating a pizza at his home around 11.30pm on October 11 last year when he heard an almighty crash as a marble slab crashed through his patio doors and three balaclava-clad men burst in.
He was incapacitated with CS gas and a stun gun and then smashed across the head rendering him unconscious – possibly with a sledgehammer bought earlier that evening from B&Q in Sealand Road – before being tied up and dragged to a waiting car.
Mr Williams was then driven to a secluded spot in Acres Lane near Chester Zoo where the men demanded money and backed up their intentions by smashing his knee cap with a boulder and placing a shotgun in his mouth with such force they chipped his teeth.
At one point the ‘petrified’ victim was dumped, while still bound and barely conscious, into a freezing cold pond.
While Salkeld kept guard, the other two visited Mr Williams’ mother’s home in Hoole where they banged on the door and demanded money saying they had her son.
Police were alerted and scrambled their helicopter which may have prompted Salkeld to flee the scene.
The victim crawled away from the pond and into the road where he was picked up by a passing taxi driver who found him freezing, soaking wet, bloody and almost unidentifiable because of the swelling to his eyes and face, begging for someone to untie his hands.
Police came across the Nissan Almera used in the kidnap and a car chase followed, involving the Nissan driving the wrong way down the A55.
Huston and Sanders tried to get away by swimming across the River Dee. Huston was caught in the river and Sanders was arrested the next day when he turned up at an address where police were already lying in wait.
Salkeld was eventually arrested after being found hiding in the attic at his girlfriend’s home in Northgate Village, where a CS gas cannister was also discovered.
A key was found to a caravan at the Chester Southerly Holiday Park at Marlston Cum Lache.
Inside the caravan was a heavy object wrapped in black bin bags which contained a sawn-off shotgun, five shotgun cartridges and a stun gun.
A forensic examination revealed Salkeld’s DNA on the gun and his fingerprints on the packaging used to wrap it.
At the top of the barrel was an enzyme consistent with saliva – indicating it had been in someone’s mouth.
Salkeld had pleaded not guilty and was due to face a trial at Chester Crown Court this week but changed his plea at the 11th hour and now admits kidnap, GBH with intent and possession of an illegal firearm. No evidence was offered in relation to charges concerning possession of a stun gun and CS gas spray.
Prosecutor Gareth Roberts had been due to tell the jury: “This defendant was left with Mr Williams near the pond where he continued to tell him that unless his friends called back he was going to ‘get it’. Mr Williams could hear the defendants on the phone to his friends and he could also hear the police helicopter overhead.”
Judge Roger Dutton told the court on Monday: “He’s pleaded guilty at the last gasp but he’s still entitled to some credit.”
Huston and Sanders previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping, GBH with intent and blackmail. Sanders has also admitted dangerous driving.
Suzie Reynolds, of Black Diamond Park, Chester, has been charged with perverting the course of justice in relation to providing a false alibi. She will appear at Chester Crown Court on July 1.