Sheffield kidnappers win reduction in jail terms

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Two men who kidnapped a teenage boy from Sheffield and threatened to decapitate him if his father did not pay a £40,000 ransom have had their sentences reduced on appeal.

Abdul Miah, now 31, and Liban Habib Mohammed, 22, failed in a bid at the Court of Appeal to overturn their conviction for the offence, but succeeded in getting three years knocked off their original prison terms.

Miah, of Flaxby Road, Darnall, will now serve 12 years instead of 15 for kidnap and blackmail, with a further two years for making hundreds of nuisance phone calls while in custody.

Mohammed, of Balfour Drive, Darnall, had his sentence reduced from 11 years to eight.

The pair were convicted at Sheffield Crown Court in June 2012 after a trial which heard the schoolboy was snatched and dragged into a car outside an off-licence in Staniforth Road, Darnall, Sheffield, in October the previous year.

He was held for six hours, during which time his kidnappers told him they were professional gangsters from Manchester.

The boy was hooded with a makeshift balaclava and forced to relay threats to his parents by phone that his arms, legs and head would be cut off if his father did not meet the kidnappers’ demands and pay a ransom.

The teenager was eventually released after the kidnappers panicked when they realised the police were involved.

He fled to a farmhouse in Ringinglow and raised the alarm.

Miah and Mohammed claimed during their original trial that the boy they kidnapped was in on the plot from the start, in an attempt to extract money from his father after an earlier plan to raid a cannabis farm was dropped.

Tim Moloney QC, for the pair, asked for the appeal against conviction to be allowed because of the effect on the jury of an ‘emotional outburst’ by the schoolboy’s mother when she gave her evidence.

But the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Irwin, rejected that argument saying it was an unusual case where ‘there was a concrete basis’ on why such evidence might be helpful to the jury in deciding whether the boy had or might have been involved in a fake kidnapping.

While in the overwhelming majority of cases it might not be right to admit such evidence, it had not affected the safety of the conviction, he said.

He added having heard submissions about the sentence it was clear that, while the kidnap and events had impacted on the boy, the case did not involve the most severe physical violence, of the ‘horrible’ type seen in other cases, so a lower sentence was appropriate.