Man guilty of planning to kidnap bank manager

A man was found guilty today of planning with a corrupt police constable to kidnap a bank manager.

A jury at Blackfriars Crown Court found Richmond Darko, 25, conspired with Pc Mesut Karakas and three others to kidnap the London Lloyds TSB manager in an attempt to steal money.

The five men planned to stage a roadwork scene near the bank manager's home as a distraction for the kidnap.

Police searches uncovered four sets of false number plates, industrial gaffer tape, dust masks, a balaclava, plasti-cuffs, industrial ear protectors, and the van which officers believe would have been used in the plot.

The jury took more than 10 hours to find Darko, of Prince Phillip Avenue, Grays, Essex, guilty by a majority verdict.

Karakas, 25, who was sacked from the police service in February this year, and three others had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap.

He also pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and assault.

The assault related to an incident in Chapel Market in north London on July 25 last year in which four members of the gang, including Darko and Karakas, as well as Jamie Lowe and Ijah Rowe, attacked a man with a baseball bat.

The court heard the men were caught on CCTV driving from the scene after they chased the victim down the road and beat him, leaving him with multiple injuries.

Karakas then accessed the incident report, printing it off four times, and sharing it with Lowe.

Lowe pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice after an envelope containing £10,000 was posted through the letterbox of the assault victim asking him to drop the case against the four men.

After the assault the gang, joined by a fifth member, Gokhan Kuru, started to plot the kidnap.

But anti-corruption officers from the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards made secret recordings in which they were heard discussing how the victim would be questioned to steal money.

The men were arrested in October last year before the plan could be carried out. Karakas was suspended from duty and later dismissed.

Judge Aidan Marron QC adjourned sentencing until October 22.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Robson, of the DPS, said: "Kidnap plots like this are very rare but if these five criminals had had the opportunity to carry out their plans it would have been an extremely traumatic experience for their victim. They went to great lengths to plan the plot and intended to create an elaborate and false roadwork scene to mask their criminal actions.

"This case really illustrates the challenges DPS can face as well as the expert skills we use. In Karakas we were dealing with someone who was aware of the tactics police might use and attempted to put off the investigation.

"The lesson from this case is clear - the DPS will deal robustly with those criminals who corrupt officers or work with corrupt officers. We have DPS officers committed to this work so that they contribute, like the rest of the MPS, to making London safer."

Karakas, 25, of Wragby Road, Leytonstone, east London; Lowe, 25, of Evering Road, Clapton, east London; Rowe, 24, of Chobham Road, Leyton, east London; and Kuru, 24, of Birnam Road, Finsbury Park, north London, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap between August and October last year.

Darko, Karakas, Lowe and Rowe all pleaded guilty to the assault, which took place in July last year, and Lowe also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over the payment.