Men jailed after threatening to kill boy '˜unless ransom was paid'
Two men were jailed today for a total of four years after a couple paid over a ransom following a threat to take their son to England and kill him.
Ziarat Ali and Basharat Khan extorted pounds 5000 from the mother and father before police detained the pair after stopping a car.
They found Muhammed and Sajda Afzal’s son Bilaal distressed but unharmed in the vehicle after it was brought to a halt on the A7 road near Gorebridge, in Midlothian.
A judge told Ali and Khan at the High Court in Edinburgh that they had menaced the parents and “put them in a state of alarm”.
Lord Brailsford jailed Ali for 18 months for the offence and Khan, who had a more significant criminal record, for 30 months.
Ali (34) and Khan (30) earlier admitted extorting the money from the couple on September 8 and 9 last year.
Advocate depute Peter Ferguson QC said that Bilaal had met Khan, who was with Ali, at Gilmour Road, in Edinburgh, and he was driven to the Borders village of Newtown St Boswells.
The prosecutor said the pair had Bilaal, then aged 23, repeatedly phone his parents to say he was being detained and to request that money was paid for his release.
The first call was made to his father at his shop Fountain News, in Dundee Street, in Edinburgh, on the evening of September 8.
Mr Ferguson said: “In that first call, Bilaal told his father that pounds 11,000 was wanted for his release.
It was also stated that if the money was not forthcoming he would be taken to Bradford and killed.”
During one call to his mother the son told her he had been kidnapped by Baz from Bradford, the court heard.
Further calls were made and after Mr Afzal said he could not raise that sum Ali and Khan dropped their ransom demand to pounds 5000.
The prosecutor said: “Both parents were distressed and extremely concerned for their son’s welfare.”
A man acting on behalf of Ali and Khan arrived at the shop on September 9 to collect the money and undercover police officers shadowed him before the pair were stopped with Bilaal as they drove back towards Edinburgh.
When Khan was searched he was found to have nearly pounds 1700 in cash in his trousers and boxer shorts. The bulk of the remainder of the money was found in the house at Roxburghe Place, in Newtown St Boswells.
Ali, of Roslyn Place and Khan, of Kingswood Terrace, both Bradford, in Yorkshire, had earlier faced a further charge of abducting and assaulting Bilaal Afzal by forcing him into a car and taking him to the address in the Borders.
It was alleged that they had grabbed him, repeatedly punched him and repeatedly struck him on the head and body with a metal baseball bat.
They maintained their not guilty pleas to that charge as they admitted the extortion and the Crown accepted the pleas.
The pair and a third man Patrick Loyden (49) who was acquitted of both charges, had earlier stood trial but proceedings were halted following an allegation over the behaviour of one of the accused.
During the trial Bilaal told jurors: “I just wanted to go home. I was held against my will. I was being forced to make the phone calls.”
Defence counsel Matt Jackson, for father-of-two Ali, said: “He is a practising Muslim and he is mindful of the fact he has brought shame on his family and, of course, himself.”
He said Ali, a waiter, had indicated that he felt sorry for Bilaal’s parents and understood that they had “a terrifying experience”.
Defence counsel David Nicolson, for Khan, said he accepted that he played a significant role in the crime but was “deeply sorry for the distress” caused to the victims.