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20 June 2015, 07:49 | Updated: 20 June 2015, 07:51
A "sophisticated and organised” drugs gang has been disrupted following the sentencing of four men in Norwich.
It follows a 14-month investigation, triggered by the kidnap of a man in Norwich in December 2013 when a 20-year-old was taken against his will to a property in Derby Street, Norwich.
He was then forced to gain entry to another property in the city, where his captors robbed and assaulted three men, before being taken to London the following day.
"I’m confident we’ve disrupted a sophisticated and extensive drug supply chain."
Detective Constable Craig Leeder
During this time he was subjected to violent assaults, suffering severe facial injuries; injuries which ironically prevented him being used as a drug runner which had been the intention of his abductors. He was returned to Norwich because it was felt the extent of his facial injuries would draw attention from police.
After being returned to Norwich the victim reported the incident to police (4 December) and several months of enquiries revealed the three main suspects involved were part of a "sophisticated” and "well-established” drugs gang dealing Class A on the streets of Norwich who the victim had been associating with prior to his kidnap.
Extensive enquiries by detectives based at Bethel Street Police Station resulted in four men being arrested in connection with the incident who were later charged and convicted at Norwich Crown Court on the 5 May 2015 following a 10-week trial.
Thor Guichard-Joseph, 21 of Sutton Road, London and Lee Shillingford-Cogheil, 21 of Springfield Avenue, London and a 30 year old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from London, were all found guilty by a unanimous jury for offences of kidnap, false imprisonment, robbery and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (heroin and cocaine). A fourth man, Leon Lewis, 32 of Nutwood Close, Taverham, was convicted of robbery and acquitted of false imprisonment charges.
Appearing at Norwich Crown Court on Friday 19 June Guichard-Joseph was sentenced to 14 years plus four years on extended licence, Shillingford-Cogheil was sentenced to 14 years in jail and Lewis to nine and a half years in jail. The unnamed 30 year old man was jailed for 18 years plus five years on extended licence.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Hale, was complex and lengthy.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Craig Leeder, welcomed the sentences. He said: "This has been a protracted and complex case for a number of reasons; identifying and locating suspects out of the county, detailed forensic and communication work and managing the risk posed to the victims involved.
"It is therefore satisfying to see these men put behind bars where they belong and where they can no longer commit crime on the streets of Norwich.
"I’m confident we’ve disrupted a sophisticated and extensive drug supply chain. This case has also led to other charges being brought against people for money laundering offences and drug offences with further defendants awaiting trial.”