Woman 'gang raped in kidnap ordeal'

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The Independent Online

A young woman was kidnapped, raped, beaten and threatened with dismemberment unless her family paid £20,000 for her release, a court heard today.

Her two-day ordeal at the hands of seven men began after one of her abductors tricked her into accompanying him to a secluded hideaway.

Once inside she was ordered upstairs and pushed against a bed while another of her tormentors began throttling her and a third pinned her arms to her side.

Ken Millett, prosecuting, claimed that after she was gagged with tape and clothing torn from her body, four men took turns to rape the helpless 26-year-old.

Once they had finished she was blindfolded and tied up, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.

More men then arrived and ordered her to phone her mother in China and explain she needed £20,000 to pay off gambling debts.

But during a later phone call one of her abductors told the woman her daughter was being held hostage and unless the money was paid on time she would be "beaten every five minutes".

They also warned their victim her hands and feet would be "chopped off", with worse to follow, if their demands were not met.

Then the rest of her would be "chopped up and buried in the garden in the back".

"She was punched and kicked between the calls so that her parents could hear. Her mother remembers her daughter screaming and crying miserably.

"They also told their victim that they had killed before, so killing her was not going to matter much to them."

Said Mr Millett: "We suggest this lady and her family were targeted by an organised criminal group of which the prosecution suggest these defendants, were part."

He claimed their motive was simply "large sums of money", with the "gratuitous" gang rape of their terrified victim "incidental to their overall aim".

He told jurors that despite the threats, her relatives contacted the Chinese authorities, who in turn alerted their British counterparts.

However, they also raised the ransom and deposited it in various accounts as ordered, to buy time and keep her safe.

Fortunately, her whereabouts were discovered and officers from the Met's Specialist Crime Directorate launched a "spectacular" rescue.

"They stormed the house because, at one point, while watching it they saw someone looking out of an upstairs window. Fearing the operation might have been compromised they decided to force their way in."

The woman was found in the kitchen, still bound and being guarded by one of her abductors.

He and three other gang members were arrested in the house and the money recovered before it left China.

But two others involved are on the run in Britain, while accomplices also exist in China.

Mr Millett said it was clear the kidnap and ransom demand had been "well-planned", with the accounts in China being set up shortly before the abduction.

In the dock are Bing Li, 25, who lived at the gang's "stronghold" in Talisman Square, Lewisham, south-east London, Xin Da Yu, 39, of no fixed address, and a 17-year-old, who variously deny rape, sexual assault, blackmail and false imprisonment.

The jury heard two other men, Ming Chen, 25, and Zhuang Ming, 23, both of no fixed address, admitted false imprisonment and blackmail counts.