Edinburgh crime: Violent gang terrorises and threatens to kill men during knifepoint ordeal in New Town flat
A violent gang who burst into an Edinburgh home and terrorised two flatmates during a four-hour knife ordeal are facing a lengthy jail sentence.
Alessandro Russo, Maomar Franco and Alberto Castillo bound their victims with cable ties before threatening to murder them during the attack in a New Town flat in October 2021. The thugs, who are all Spanish nationals, were armed with large knives and made one victim transfer cash from his bank account and stole £1,700 in cash from him. The trio fled the scene after barricading the men in a bedroom but Russo, 32, and Castillo, 36, were soon arrested after the victims reported the terrifying attack.
Franco, 36, was later found after one of the victims spotted him DJing in a city centre Latin-themed nightclub around two weeks later and called in the police. The three men pleaded guilty to a charge of abducting, assaulting and robbing victims Jacob Salaet and Daniel Ceballos in their home when they appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month.
They returned to the dock for sentencing on Tuesday, May 9, where Sheriff Kenneth Campbell KC was told a Spanish interpreter had not turned up to court meaning the three accused could not be sentenced. Russo, from Musselburgh, East Lothian, and Franco and Castillo, both from Edinburgh, all had their sentence deferred again to later this month.
Previously prosecutor Ross Price told court the two victims had been at home in a basement flat in the city’s New Town at around midnight on October 27, 2021. Mr Price said Jacob Salaet answered a knock at the door and was confronted by the three gang members who were carrying blades and made “jabbing motions” at the man’s stomach. Mr Salaet had his hands and feet bound with cable ties while second victim Daniel Ceballos was “woken by three men by the side of his bed” and had a 15cm blade pointed at his stomach and neck.
The gang looted the flat and forced Mr Ceballos to transfer £1,391 to a bank account before getting him to hand over £1,715 in cash he had concealed in his bedroom. Russo warned the pair not to contact police “or they would return and kill them” before barricading the men in a room and fleeing the capital flat around 4am. The gang also made off with items from the property including a Nintendo Switch, a mobile phone, a mountain bike and a laptop.
The court was told Russo and Castillo were arrested the following day and Franco had been caught after Mr Salaet later attended at the El Barrio club and recognised the DJ as his attacker. The sheriff had previously ordered all three accused to surrender their passports and ID cards as part of their bail conditions. Russo, Franco and Castillo admitted to abducting the two men and tying their hands and feet, detaining them against their will, assaulting them, pointing a knife at them and repeatedly threatening them with violence and rob them of cash and items on 27 and 28 October, 2021.