House seller was held hostage because he changed his price

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The Independent Online

A homebuyer who assaulted the seller of a luxury farmhouse and took him hostage because he raised the price of the property by £200,000 was jailed for three years yesterday.

Lester Stacey, a mobile home dealer, threatened to cut out vendor Adam Adamou's heart and gouge his eyes out after Mr Adamou demanded more than the £600,000 that was agreed several months earlier. He called Mr Adamou a "spineless git" and refused his requests for an ambulance after he complained of chest pains.

Recorder Jill Darbyshire, sitting at Stafford Crown Court, said she accepted that Stacey, 39, was upset at the collapse of the property deal, but that no amount of disappointment could justify his attack.

"You subjected Mr Adamou to a terrifying ordeal for two hours and Mr Adamou remained terrified for a long time after that," the judge said.

Stacey, of Eccleshall, Staffordshire, was convicted of false imprisonment and common assault by a jury at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after a retrial last month. The judge, who also gave Stacey a concurrent three-month sentence for assault, told him: "I accept you were very upset, but no amount of disappointment can justify how you acted. You terrified Mr Adamou. When he complained of suffering angina pains, you did nothing to help him and continued to terrify him." The assault occurred in May last year after the victim, a retired businessman, had his home of Weston Wood Farm in Woodseaves, Staffs, revalued five months after agreeing a deal with Stacey.

Mr Adamou said he had decided not to sell to Stacey because Stacey been dragging his feet with the contract and because the housing market had boomed in the meantime.

On May 4, 2002, after being quoted £850,000 for the farmhouse, Mr Adamou phoned Stacey to tell him the deal was off. Shortly after, Stacey, a married man with two children, went to the six-bedroom property to confront Mr Adamou. The court heard the defendant ranted at Mr Adamou, punched him in the face, and kept him prisoner in his own home after pulling his phone off the wall.

Mr Adamou had thought Stacey was a cash buyer, but realised some time later he did not have the money and was trying to raise a mortgage.

David Iles, for the defence, said his client's heart had ruled his temper. "This is an unusual case. Mr Stacey believed his word was his bond and expected the same from Mr Adamou."