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Strippers kidnapped club boss over Cheltenham cash, court told

By Claire Hayhurst

The hordes of Irish punters who travel to Cheltenham each year are famed for their enjoyment of the after-race entertainment as much as their love of horse-racing.

But this week a Cheltenham court has been told how some entertainment during the race festival turned sour for one local nightclub boss.


Curtis Woodman, who had hired the Embassy Club for the five days of the festival, has described the moment he was kidnapped by three lap dancers in "miniskirts, stillettos and Daisy Duke shorts" and their manager.


The four allegedly kidnapped Mr Woodman after he refused to give them a share of £42,000 spent by one punter at the club.


Mr Woodman (34) fell out with the lap dancers, the trial has heard, when they broke the rules by stripping off at the pop-up club at the festival.


Police shut down the club after the lap dancers broke strict licensing rules, which said they must wear "clothing, bikinis and nipple tassels at all times".


The dancers claimed they were promised 50pc of any credit card takings, which included £42,000 spent by one over-excited punter.


When Mr Woodman refused to hand over the money, lap dancers Mandy Cool (29), Rachel Goodchild (24), Stephanie Pye (31) and their agent Charlotte Devaney (34) are alleged to have enlisted the help of two male friends to strong-arm him.


The jury heard how they trapped Mr Woodman in their BMW car before driving him to a field where he was beaten up by Robert Morris (27) and his brother Alexander (23).


The club boss was allegedly robbed of £60 in cash and his £4,650 (Brietling watch and assaulted during the two-hour incident on September 3, 2012.


Mr Woodman also claims he was forced to transfer £4,800 into the bank account of the lapdancers' manager.


Prosecutor Martin Steen told Bristol Crown Court: "As far as Woodman was concerned he felt the girls had broken their contracts and were not entitled to keep the money."


Mr Steen said the contracts had included a clause that they agreed to forfeit any commission earned if they did not keep the rules.


"One of the problems encountered on the first night was that a number of girls did not adhere to the rules. They insisted on taking their clothes off and complaints were made," said Mr Steen.


All four deny a charge of kidnapping. The Morris brothers deny robbing Mr Woodman of his watch and the cash.


Parts of Mr Woodman's police interview played to the court heard him describe how his watch was later found in the anus of Alexander Morris -- a watch he described as his "pride and joy".


Mr Woodman described to jurors the moment when he was "surrounded" outside his work premises in Tewkesbury Gloucestershire where the women and two men had driven in two BMWs.


Giving evidence from behind a screen, he said: "I wasn't given a chance to say anything to be honest. They surrounded me.


"I was worried for my safety. He (Alexander Morris) pushed me in the car, he followed me and he sat next to me. He had a knife on him."


Representing Robert Morris, Khalid Missouri suggested that Mr Woodman had entered the car by his own free will.


"Coming back to the real world: stilettos, miniskirts, guys in normal clothing, Daisy Dukes -- that doesn't sound like an intention to kidnap you."


Mr Woodman replied: "There was obviously some intention." He denied claims he had told the group he did not want to discuss the matter there and suggested going elsewhere.


The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

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