Armed gang kidnapped, stabbed and tortured man in Cardiff flat to extort £100,000 from his friends

27 October 2023, 16:48 | Updated: 27 October 2023, 19:47

Dramatic police footage of rescue operation and armed arrests

By Bronwen Weatherby

A dangerous armed gang who kidnapped and tortured a man for money have been jailed.

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The victim was held at gunpoint at a flat in Odet Court, Cardiff, beaten and waterboarded while they demanded a £100,000 ransom from his friends.

Fortune Lawson, 27, and his group who had travelled from London in December 2020 to help carry out the plot, bundled the man into an Audi Q5 blindfolded and handcuffed.

They imprisoned him in a safe house on Livingstone Walk, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire where the 30-hour ordeal continued.

Police hostage negotiators worked with the man’s associates to arrange for a £50,000 ransom to be dropped at a location in Bristol.

Meanwhile, armed police raided the Hertfordshire property and rescued the man who then spent five days in hospital with “grave” injuries. The victim had to undergo surgery three months later.

The gang had a haul of weapons and ammo
The gang had a haul of weapons and ammo. Picture: SWP

Lawson was also sentenced for carrying out a similar plot in London in 2018 after police uncovered forensic evidence that showed a second victim had been held against his will and repeatedly assaulted by the gang.

Lawson kidnapped the second man as he believed he had access to cash and expensive jewellery.

The defendant, along with the rest of his group, kidnapped the second man from outside his home in Harrow, north-west London, before taking him to a house and subjecting him to a savage attack, slashing him with knives and pouring boiling water over him while he lay cabled tied to a bath.

The second man told the court during trial that the torture had “broken him completely”.

Gideon Lawson (l) and Fortune Lawson (r)
Gideon Lawson (l) and Fortune Lawson (r). Picture: SWP

At the time, Lawson was questioned by police over the incident but never charged and later moved to Cardiff where he set up a food business called Soul Flavours.

The prosecution, led by Christopher Rees KC, said Lawson's life in the Welsh capital had been a front for his next kidnap plot in which he envisioned taking as many as 20 hostages with the aim to extort £1million.

Mr Rees referred to Lawson as a “master manipulator” and a very dangerous individual who targeted and groomed members of the public he believed had access to cash and would be too scared to go to the police.

Sentencing the group of nine men, Judge Daniel Williams, said: “For everyone’s sake and the sake of society it’s to be sincerely hoped that having completed your sentenced each of you can channel your abilities and energy in a positive direction and not to ruin others lives for gain.”

He added: “The court has concluded in the case of six of you that you are deemed dangerous and will receive extended sentences.”

Judge Williams also thanked the South Wales Police for their “painstaking” work in bringing the men to justice.

Arnold Fumumeya (l) and Alexis Mutesa (r)
Arnold Fumumeya (l) and Alexis Mutesa (r). Picture: SWP

Full list of offences and sentences:

  • Fortune Lawson, 27, from Ealing, London. Sentenced to 25 years in prison plus 5 years extended sentence. (Lawson was also sentenced for his part in a second kidnap and blackmail case in London in 2018).
  • Davood Assadopour, 32, from Harrow, London. Sentenced to 15 years in prison plus 4 years extended sentence.
  • Micaiah Marley, 30, from Watford. Sentenced to 15 years in prison plus 4 years extended sentence.
  • Arnold Fumumeya, 27, from Harrow, London. Sentenced to 13 years in prison plus 3 years extended sentence.
  • Alexis Mutesa, 27, from Brent, London. Sentenced to 13 years in prison plus 3 years extended sentence.
  • Gideon Lawson, 24, from London. Sentenced to 12 years in prison plus 3 years extended sentence.
  • Ahmed Omar, 29, from Mitcham, Surrey. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
  • Also, Denis Delishaj, 24, from Harrow, London, convicted of blackmail. Sentenced to 8 years in prison, plus 8 months for possession of an illicit phone while in prison awaiting trial.
  • Stephen Isaac, 66, from Hemel Hempstead, convicted of kidnap and false imprisonment. Sentenced to 6 years.
Ahmed Omar
Ahmed Omar. Picture: SWP
Stephen Isacc (l) and Micaiah Marley (r)
Stephen Isacc (l) and Micaiah Marley (r). Picture: SWP

“This has been one of the UK’s most complicated kidnap investigations in recent times and it has taken nearly three years to convict these nine individuals," Detective Superintendent Darren George, of the South Wales Police Major Crime Investigation Team, said.

“We hope our investment into this crime and sentences handed down send a clear message to those intent on bringing this sort of violence to our streets.

“We will relentlessly pursue you with everything at our disposal and you will go to jail.”

Denis Delishaj (l) and Davood Assadopour
Denis Delishaj (l) and Davood Assadopour. Picture: SWP
A bedroom at the Cardiff flat where one of the victims was tortured
A bedroom at the Cardiff flat where one of the victims was tortured. Picture: CPS

CPS Wales chief crown prosecutor, Jenny Hopkins, said: “The torture suffered by the victims in this case is almost beyond belief. In their pursuit of money, those responsible were seemingly willing to inflict maximum suffering.

“The ringleader and mastermind, Fortune Lawson, planned the extortions like military operations.

“He targeted men who trusted him and who he had identified as possessing high-value goods or significant amounts of money.

“Thankfully these dangerous and violent men have now been brought to justice, but the suffering of the victims and the impact of their injuries goes on.”