Couple paid ransom after alleged kidnapping and kill threat

The High Court in Edinburgh
The High Court in Edinburgh

TWO men have been held in custody after a couple paid out a ransom following a threat to take their son to England and kill him.

Ziarat Ali and Basharat Khan extorted £5,000 from the mother and father before police detained the pair in Midlothian 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.

Ali, 34, and Khan, 30, admitted extorting the money from the couple on September 8 and 9 last year, when they appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

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 £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 £5,000.

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 £1,700 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, representing Ali, said to the son in cross-examination that it was “a scheme” to get money from his parents but he replied that was false and that he would never put his parents through anything like that.

Mr Jackson said that Ali did not make any of the phone calls to the parents, although his phone was used for calls.

The judge, Lord Brailsford, deferred sentence for Ali and Khan for the preparation of background reports and remanded them in custody.