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Two men jailed for St Albans kidnap
A man who was taken hostage by gun-wielding kidnappers in St Albans was saved as the MOT on their car had expired.
Hertfordshire Constabulary officers started following the silver Peugeot 306 after it came up in a random check on the M1.
This caused the driver to speed off and start a high-speed chase down the motorway before they ditched the car in London.
Two officers were then fired on as the kidnappers during a foot-chase.
Clayton McKenzie, 36, from High Street, Harlesden and David Rhoden, 28 years, from Flowers Close in Neasden were jailed in connection with the kidnap this week.
St Albans Crown Court heard that the victim, a 30-year-old man from London, had been walking along Hatfield Road in St Albans on the morning of November 16, when the Peugeot pulled over.
The driver called the victim to the vehicle before getting out and hitting him on the back of the head. The man was then dragged unconscious to the car.
The same car was seen at around 12.05pm that day on the M1 southbound near Junction 6 by two Hertfordshire Constabulary officers carrying out random checks.
They started following the car after registration check showed that the MOT on this vehicle had expired in September 2013.
However when they signalled for it to stop the car sped off southbound and reached speeds of 100mph as it weaved between lanes and narrowly avoided other cars.
The court hear the car eventually pulled off at Junction 4 and headed into Edgware. The two men then jumped out of the car while it was still moving in Broadhurst Avenue.
The car came to rest against a curb and two officers, who had been following the Peugeot, gave chase on foot.
As they ran one of the men fired backwards with a revolver and a handgun but missed the officers.
However following an extensive search of the area, the two men escaped. The victim was found in the back of the car tied up and was taken to hospital for treatment.
McKenzie was arrested the following day in London, whilst Rhoden was arrested on November 29 following a firearms warrant at an address in Neasden.
Both men were been sentenced today to more than 16 years in prison after being found guilty of kidnap, carrying a firearm with criminal intent, possession of Class A drug with intent to supply, possessing a firearm at the time of committing an offence and ABH. Rhoden was also found guilty of making use of a firearm with intent to resist arrest and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Gordon, who led the investigation, said: “These two men took a man from the street in broad daylight making threats to kill him, before putting officers lives at risk in an attempt to evade arrest. Clearly these men are dangerous and I am pleased with the sentences they have been given.
“What the officers believed would be a routine stop turned into an extremely dangerous situation and despite being fired at, they continued in the course of their duty to pursue the offenders. This truly highlights the serious and potentially fatal risks faced by police on a daily basis and their bravery should be fully commended.
“A large number of officers and staff were involved in this case from the initial incident to subsequent investigation and trial. I would like to thank each and every one of them, including our colleagues in the MET who assisted significantly, for their support in ensuring these men faced justice.”
Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “This case involved the horrific kidnap and assault of a 30-year-old man, and a Hertfordshire police officer being indiscriminately shot at, which could have had far worse consequences.
“At about midday on 16 November 2013, two officers were on patrol when they attempted to stop a Peugeot, which had no MOT, but it failed to stop and made off at speed. Two men eventually decamped from the moving vehicle and the officers pursued them on foot. Rhoden, the passenger, had a hand gun in each hand and whilst fleeing across front gardens Rhoden fired both guns in the direction of one of the officers. One bullet lodged in a garden wall and ballistic strike marks were found in a garage door and on a façade of nearby Greville Lodge. As many as five shots were fired.
“Rhoden’s actions showed a complete disregard for the safety of the officers or the numerous members of the public that were walking nearby. The unarmed officers were forced to stop their pursuit.
“Using a courtroom display system, the prosecution were able to present compelling CCTV footage, audio clips, evidence of gunshot residue, cell site evidence and sophisticated DNA evidence to the jury.
“McKenzie tried to claim to police that his car had been stolen and that he had in fact been kidnapped and dumped in a country lane and denied any involvement in the offences despite being identified from CCTV stills by another police officer. Rhoden failed to answer police questions, but during the trial also denied the offences. The jury saw through their lies and found them guilty despite their denials.
“The incident highlights the dangers police officers face while doing what thousands of police officers do every day – protecting the public from dangerous criminals. The officer bravely put his life at risk in an attempt to detain Rhoden and I commend his actions. I would also like to thank the witnesses, who came forward and gave evidence in very difficult circumstances.
“We have worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved for the victim and the police officers. I am pleased that these dangerous men are off our streets.
“Understandably the events on that day have had a significant impact on the victim and the police officers. I hope that the convictions and sentences will in some way help them come to terms with these horrifying events with the knowledge that those that subjected them to the terrible ordeal have been brought to justice. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time.”
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