The ringleader of a gang has been jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and blackmail.

Nathan Parry, 37, of Jack’s Wood, Ellesmere Port, was described by the judge at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday, May 2, as the lead member of a kidnap gang and the ‘brains’ behind the offence against the victim, a 33-year-old businessman living in the Oswestry-Welshpool area.

Andrew Ballantyne, 36, of a caravan park at Rough Hill, Chester, and David Staff, 34, of Leaside Road, Chester, said to have been ‘willing lieutenants’, were both locked up for seven-and-a-half years, after admitting the offences.

Natalie Goode, 33, of Willow Road, Lache, Chester, was cleared of kidnapping and false imprisonment but convicted of blackmail.

She was accused of collecting a ransom of at least £11,000, possibly almost £20,000, from the man’s mother.

Following orders

Imposing an 18 months suspended prison term with 250 hours unpaid work, Judge Philip Harris-Jenkins told her: “You fall in a wholly different category. Your role was minor. You were following orders.”

Carl Nicholas, 33, of Coed Aben, Wrexham, was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to witness intimidation by warning the victim he and his family would be ‘taken out’.

On September 2, 2015, a man living in the Oswestry-Welshpool area of mid Wales had been handcuffed, driven off and blindfolded in a black Audi which had been taken a few months earlier from outside a house at Hawarden, near Chester.

Prosecutor John Philpotts had told the jury they might think the events ‘sound rather like the plot of a television police drama’ but the case involved ‘real people and real fear’.

The victim had, the court heard, been warned that his kidnappers wanted cash or he would be killed with a heroin injection. He had also been threatened with abuse by a sex toy and threatened with being shot in a warehouse at Birkenhead.

Mr Philpotts said he was taken to a caravan park on the outskirts of Chester during a four-hour ordeal.

Defence barrister Gareth Roberts, for Parry, said the victim was perhaps someone ‘who sailed close to the wind’.

But Judge Harris-Jenkins said the man had no convictions. The prosecution said drugs found attached to his vehicle had been ‘planted’ and the judge said it perhaps ‘emphasises the level of sophistication and planning’ that went into what happened, to discredit the victim.

He told the kidnappers: ”He thought he was going to die at your hands.”