Kidnapped man faces jail for refusal to give evidence

Officers outside the house on Clermiston Place in 2008 after Aaron Hunter's kidnapping
Officers outside the house on Clermiston Place in 2008 after Aaron Hunter's kidnapping
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HE was only 16 years old when he was kidnapped by gangsters who held him for 30 hours and demanded a ransom of £150,000 in cash and drugs after threatening to kill him.

Now victim Aaron Hunter is facing a possible jail sentence after refusing to give evidence at the trial of the four men accused of abducting him.

Mr Hunter, now 20, took to the witness stand at the High Court in Glasgow last month but claimed he could not remember being kidnapped.

The claim has led him to be charged with contempt of court – an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years – with his case set to called in court later this month.

A Crown Office spokesman confirmed that Mr Hunter will face a charge of contempt of court at the High Court in Glasgow on June 21.

Last Wednesday, two men accused of helping gangster Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll kidnap Mr Hunter from his family home in Clermiston walked free from court.

Joseph Lindsay, 27, and Brian Sloan, 22, were acquitted by a jury and the case against them was found not proven.

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.

The trial heard that Mr Hunter had given detectives a 24-page witness statement just hours after he was released by his captors in Warrington in Cheshire.

Detective Sergeant Carol Craig, from Lothian and Borders Police, took the statement from the teenager over a four-hour period at Kirkby police station in Liverpool.

When asked about the youth’s demeanour during the interview, DS Craig told the court: “He was very composed but he was tired and anxious to get home.” Asked if he was “hesitant” or “evasive”, DS Craig replied: “No.”

The statement was read out in court and included a detailed account of Mr Hunter’s ordeal, which took place on October 24 and 25, 2008. He 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.

An earlier trial of the four accused held last March collapsed due to legal problems. Mr Hunter was also called to give evidence during that case but claimed he had no recollection of the abduction.

Asked by advocate depute Gary Allan QC when he discovered that he could not remember a single thing about the incident, Mr Hunter said: “I am not sure.”

During the new trial, Mr Hunter was again unable to give evidence about the terrifying experience, prompting the contempt of court proceedings.

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 along with Carroll, who was gunned down at the Asda car park in Robroyston, Glasgow, in January 2010.

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.

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.

During the kidnapping, 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.