A “dangerous” gang ringleader of an organised crime group that kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured its victims with knives and boiling water has been jailed for 25 years.
He was lured into meeting Lawson on the pretence of discussing cannabis, but was instead subjected to a “terrifying” ordeal that lasted eight hours and included being stabbed and having boiling water poured 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 “grave” injuries and had to undergo surgery three months later, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Friday.
Eight other members of the gang, all having been involved in at least one of the three plots, were also sentenced on Friday at the same court.
Another victim was waterboarded, beaten and forced to ask friends to provide a £50,000 ransom, while being threatened with guns and knives at a flat in Cardiff in December 2020.
He was taken to another stronghold in Hertfordshire where the horrifying ordeal continued before he was eventually rescued by armed police.
DNA evidence obtained 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 well as eight months for having a phone in prison.
CPS Cymru-Wales Chief Crown 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 seemingly willing to inflict maximum suffering.
“The ringleader and mastermind, Fortune Lawson, planned the extortions like military operations. He targeted men who trusted him and who he had identified as possessing high-value goods or significant amounts of money.
“Others in the gang had varying roles - but each was aware of the terrifying ordeal the victims were being put through. They all took steps to avoid being implicated, including wearing masks, balaclavas and gloves.
“Thankfully these dangerous and violent men have now been brought to justice, but the suffering of the victims and the impact of their injuries goes on.
“I want to express my utmost gratitude to the victims for their courage in making statements and giving evidence in this case which ultimately enabled us to secure convictions.”
Detective Superintendent Darren George, head of South Wales Police Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “This has been one of the UK’s most complicated kidnap investigations in recent times and it has taken nearly three years to convict these nine individuals.
“We hope our investment into this crime and sentences handed down send a clear message to those intent on bringing this sort of violence to our streets.
“We will relentlessly pursue you with everything at our disposal and you will go to jail.”
Additional reporting by PA