Four people sentenced following blackmail plot

Three men and a woman have been sentenced to a total of 25-and-a-half years in jail for their role in the false imprisonment of a man from Acton and the blackmail of his family.

Simon Batson, 39 (04.04.82) of Burlington Gardens, Ealing was sentenced to six years and nine months after pleading guilty to two counts of blackmail.

Michael King, 60 (01.07.61) of Birbeck Grove, Ealing was sentenced to six years and three months after pleading guilty to two counts of blackmail.

King and Batson both pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail on Friday, 9 July.

Donna Harman, 41 (07.09.79) of Burlington Gardens, Ealing was sentenced to four years after being found guilty of false imprisonment and two counts of blackmail.

Otis Noel, 45 (07.07.76) of Western Avenue, Ealing was sentenced to seven years and six months after being found guilty of false imprisonment and two counts of blackmail.

Harman and Noel both were found guilty to two counts of blackmail and false imprisonment on Tuesday, 4 May.

Isleworth Crown Court heard the facts of the incident that took place on 22 March 2020 where the hostage was held against his will at an address in Burlington Gardens.

The attackers believed that the victim had allegedly incurred a £600 debt and began to make threats to his life and demands for repayment. The victim was assaulted and received bruising to his body and face.

At approximately 14:00hrs the same day the victim’s family started to receive phone calls demanding up to £1,000 for his release. The defendants also sent videos of the victim being violently assaulted to encourage them to pay the ransom. The family then called the police.

The ransom was eventually paid by a third party and the victim was released and treated in hospital for his injuries.

Detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad led the investigation and were able to identify Noel, King, Batson and Harman from fast time intelligence led enquiries. They were arrested and the victim’s mobile phone, and the phone that was used to make the demands, was found during a property search. Officers were then able to progress the investigation through call data analysis, witness statements, CCTV and forensics.

Detective Constable Glenn Peach, of the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “The fear and panic the victim and his family went through at the hands of these attackers should not be underestimated. The false imprisonment, assault and severe threats will stay with those affected for a long time.

“At the very least, we hope the victim and his family will take some comfort in the fact that these offenders have been brought to justice. We are glad that the sentences handed out reflect the severity and inexcusable nature of the crimes that took place.”

King and Batson were also both charged with false imprisonment. These counts will lie on file.