A man who plotted to kidnap an assistant manager of a Knightsbridge boutique store to get the store keys has been jailed for 10 years.
Benson Igbokwe was found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap at Isleworth Crown Court.
The court heard how on 28th February 2013, the assistant manager of a boutique store in Knightsbridge had locked the store and was making her way home.
As she got to the communal door to her flat in Shepherds Bush, she noticed two men wearing high visibility jackets standing outside the entrance.
She opened the door and made her way into the courtyard, at which point one of the men approached her and pointed a handgun, whilst the other man blocked the door.
The victim, thinking he wanted to steal her handbag, offered it to him but the man shook his head and asked her for her shop keys.
With the gun now pointing at her head, she tried to persuade the man that she did not have the keys, to which the man said: ‘Yes you do because you locked up tonight. We followed you.’
The victim was then told to get into a van parked outside.
The woman walked to the communal door and the second suspect opened it to let her out.
As soon as she got outside, she ran to a nearby shop and called police.
During the police investigation it was established that over several weeks, Igbokwe carried out surveillance on the woman.
He parked outside the store at closing time as well as outside her flat when she arrived home.
At one point, the victim became suspicious of the vehicle and made a note of the registration number which was registered to Igbokwe.
Police enquiries also revealed that Igbokwe had hired a white van on the day of the offence and phone records showed that his mobile phone was being used within the vicinity of the store and her flat.
Igbokwe was arrested on 7th March 2013 and later charged with conspiracy to kidnap.
A second man was arrested and also charged with conspiracy to kidnap.
He was later acquitted of the offence.
Acting Detective Sergeant Aretha Guernah, from Hammersmith and Fulham CID, said:
I cannot imagine the fear that the victim went through having a gun pointed at her head and knowing that the men were trying to kidnap her.
I would like to praise her for her courage and bravery in having to recall this terrible ordeal over and over again whilst giving evidence to the courts and assisting with our investigation.
I hope this sentence brings some comfort to the victim that a dangerous man has been locked up and a warning to others who look to follow in Igbokwe’s footsteps that the police will catch you and bring you before the courts.
Acting Detective Superintendent Sarah Pearce, said:
From the sheer shock of a handgun held at point blank range, the victim understandably found it difficult to recount her attacker’s identity.
Even though there was no evidence to suggest that Igbokwe was the gunman, officers painstakingly carried out hours of CCTV enquires, analysed phone records and ANPR data to prove that Igbokwe’s behaviour outside the store and the victim’s address was that of someone carrying out surveillance activities.
The investigative team did a fantastic job in securing this conviction and taking a dangerous man off the streets.