Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Violent kidnap gang sentenced

A VULNERABLE adult was kidnapped, beaten with an iron rod and dumped on a remote country road without his shoes – because he apparently owed £60.

The shocking details of the incident were recalled at the Crown Court this week when two Omagh men and a teenager were sentenced for their roles in the crime.

The kidnap was apparently carried out in order to get £60 from the victim, who was described as a "vulnerable adult". John Thomas Galbraith (56), of Knockamoe Bungalows in the Co Tyrone town, instigated the plan and assaulted the victim with an iron rod while he was held captive in the back of a van.

The court heard Galbraith has 184 criminal convictions, which include offences of a sexual nature and a previous kidnapping.

He was sentenced to two years and six months in prison and told he will serve half of the term, 15 months, in custody and the rest on licence.

Co-accused Andrew Cashel (21), of Rodgers Villas, received a 15- month term suspended for two years.

The third person involved in the kidnapping was a 16-year-old boy whose name cannot be published because of his age. He was ordered to carry out 40 hours community service work, the maximum for his age, and agreed to spend two years on probation for aiding and abetting a kidnapping.

The victim knows both Cashel and the teenager.

On July 1 last year he met them by arrangement in the belief that they were going in a van to a friend's house. The victim was in the back of the vehicle which suddenly stopped and the older man, Galbraith, got into the back. He demanded £60 he said was owed to him by the victim. The journey took them on isolated roads and Cashel became threatening and took the victim's boots off to check if there was money in them. He threw the boots out of the van and then asked for a metal rod from his co-kidnappers, which he used to beat the man.

The victim also had his mobile phone taken and was then left alone on a remote country road.

Craig Patten, who represented Galbraith, acknowledged that his client has an "appalling record".

Judge Jeffrey Miller described Galbraith as the "prime mover" who used threats and violence.

Judge Miller said: "This was a deeply traumatising experience for the injured party and one can only imagine what went through his mind as to what would happen to him during his time in the van."

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