TWO men accused of helping gangster Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll kidnap an innocent teenage boy from his Edinburgh home and demanding £150,000 in ransom cash and drugs have walked free from court.
Joseph Lindsay, 27, and Brian Sloan, 22, were acquitted by a jury and the case against was found not proven at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday.
The pair were accused of abducting 16-year-old Aaron Hunter from his home in Clermiston Place and holding him hostage for 30 hours.
Today, the teenager’s own terrifying account of his kidnapping can be revealed by the Evening News, in which he details the repeated threats gang members made to kill him.
Interviewed by police in the hours after his ordeal, Mr Hunter told officers that gangsters bundled him into a car and kept him overnight in a house after beating him.
They threatened to do “bad stuff” to his family if he spoke to police before releasing him on an empty road in England.
Police believe the teenager was abducted by gangsters after criminals from Edinburgh bought a consignment of heroin using counterfeit notes.
Lindsay and Sloan were charged with being involved in the abduction of Mr Hunter on October 24 and 25, 2008 along with Carroll, who was gunned down at the Asda car park in Robroyston, Glasgow, in January 2010, and took the teenager to Warrington in Cheshire.
The court heard that the teenager was taken with a view to recovering money that the abductors alleged one of his family members and another man, Leroy Robinson, owed them.
The jury heard that Mr Hunter’s DNA was found in Lindsay’s car, but there was no evidence to suggest he had ever been in that car. Defence QC Brian McConnachie, who represented Lindsay, said: “This DNA is likely to have come from a secondary source. There is nothing to suggest that Mr Hunter was ever in that car.”
Two co-accused, Craig Gallagher, 32, from Glasgow, and Sean Givens, 27, from Liverpool, were acquitted of the abduction and attempted extortion charge during the course of the 28-day trial.
In evidence Mr Hunter, who is now 20, said he could not remember being abducted.
It was the third time that all four men were on trial for this offence and the total legal bill was put at £400,000 by court insiders. The first two trials were halted by legal problems.
During the hostage crisis, gang members spoke repeatedly by phone with Mr Hunter’s parents who, unknown to them, had contacted police. Specialist negotiators were called in to help them deal with the demands.
The kidnappers threatened to kill the teenager by 12pm on October 25 if their demands were not met. They finally released him at 5pm that day.
Two more homes in Edinburgh, one in Saughton Mains Place and another in Stevenson Drive, were placed under police protection for the duration of the incident.
On the night of October 24, police delivered “Osman letters” to the mother of Leroy Robinson and to a Jason Hunter. The warnings are issued to members of the public when officers discover that someone wants to kill them.
Carroll was believed to have taken part in the abduction of Mr Hunter after a search for the men who bought the drugs with forged notes proved fruitless. At the time, local people said that criminals armed with guns had threatened residents as they scoured the city.
There were rumours that Mark Richardson, the Inch gang leader who ran much of the city’s cocaine trade before he was jailed for ten years in August 2010, had paid the ransom money to secure Mr Hunter’s release.
Detectives said that no money was paid and added that Richardson, who was a friend and criminal associate of Carroll, had not been in the city at the time of the abduction.
Threatened, beaten and left at roadside
DRESSED in an all-in-one white paper suit, Aaron Hunter was interviewed by police less than five hours after being freed by his captors.
The 16-year-old’s clothing had been taken away for forensic examination when officers from Lothian and Borders Police arrived at Kirkby police station in Liverpool to speak to him.
Detective Sergeant Carol Craig took down his statement over the next four hours. She told the High Court in Glasgow that the teenager was not “hesitant” or “evasive” as he spoke.
Mr Hunter, right, said he had woken up at 12.30pm on October 24, 2008 and was alone in the family house.
He was still in bed when he heard “footsteps and mumbling voices” and walked to the stairs to check out the noise. Suddenly the teenager was grabbed by a man who pushed his head down and spun him round.
He told police: “I saw three sets of legs but I could not see faces. The man sat me down on the couch. He said, ‘Keep your head down lad’. His accent was from Liverpool or Manchester.
“He said, ‘Are you Mark Hunter’s brother?’. I said, ‘Yes’. He said, ‘Sound lad, you’re coming with me’.
The gang ordered Mr Hunter to put on a jumper with the hood up and pulled him out of the house, saying, “If you run lad, you’ll get stabbed”.
A car driven by another man pulled up and Mr Hunter was pushed on to the back seat, one man sitting on either side of him, and the vehicle sped off.
He said: “The hood was pulled over my head and my head was pushed down. All I could see was the carpet. One man asked me if I knew where ‘Leroy’ stayed. I said, ‘No’. He said, ‘You better start thinking where you can get hold of him’.”
The men in the back seat began throwing elbows into his face, but he was “so scared I didn’t feel it”.
Mr Hunter knew a Leroy, who was friends with his brothers, and the gang forced the teenager to call his mum and get her to find a mobile number.
He said: “They told me not to say I was with them. They handed me a Nokia phone. Mum answered and I asked if she could get Leroy’s number.”
Mr Hunter was ordered to call back, and although his mum was “suspicious”, she gave him the number but the gang were furious when they realised it was one they already had.
He said: “I phoned my mum again. I was told to tell her I’d been taken away. She passed the phone to my dad and he hit the roof. I said it was something to do with Mark or Leroy. I said they wanted to get in contact with Mark so they’d taken me away.”
Mr Hunter was driven to a house and told if he looked out the window he would be stabbed. He said: “I could hear their voices but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I sat in a daze till daylight.”
In the morning, he was driven to a phone box and told to call his mum. Telling her not to panic, the youth said he was “OK” before a gang member grabbed the receiver and started demanding money.
Taken back to the house, he was told to shower and given different clothes as the gang sought to destroy evidence.
Four men took him to the car and he was made to lie in the back seat as it sped off. One of the men said, ‘You’re all right lad, but I’m going to end your brother and Leroy’. He was given a £5 note and told “bad stuff” would happen to his family if he spoke to police. Another man added: ‘Don’t look back or we’ll run you over’.
The gang dropped him off at the side of a road.
Mr Hunter said he was unable to identify any of the kidnappers.