Man convicted over drug case kidnapping: Father seized suspected dealer 'to give him fright of his life'

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The Independent Online
A BUTCHER who seized a man he believed was supplying drugs to schoolchildren and threatened to throw him off a cliff was convicted of kidnapping yesterday.

Alan Hocking, 27, believed that the law would be too soft on Michael Roberts, who he claimed supplied LSD to three boys aged 13, 14 and 15.

So he decided to take matters into his own hands. Together with one of the boys' fathers, whom he refused to name, Hocking took Mr Roberts, 18, on a 30-minute drive to the coast, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Peter Johnson, for the prosecution, said when they came to a padlocked gate Hocking told the teenager: 'Pity it's locked. I was going to throw you over the cliffs.'

Hocking ordered Mr Roberts out of his car on the edge of a wood at Ryhope, County Durham, and it was claimed that he attacked him with a nail-studded lump of wood. Then he dumped him bleeding and shocked near his home in nearby Seaham.

Mr Johnson said that police were already interviewing members of Mr Roberts' family who had seen the men snatch him from his doorstep.

Hocking, who claimed that a friend's 14-year-old brother had bought 'acid' (LSD) tablets from Mr Roberts at pounds 7-a-time, surrendered to police the next day.

Yesterday a jury took three hours to convict Hocking, of Murton, Durham, of kidnapping. The jury found him not guilty of charges of false imprisonment and assault.

Hocking, who has a a 14-month-old son and whose girlfriend is expecting their second child in October, was released on conditional bail for pre-sentence reports. He will be sentenced on 13 September. Judge Arthur Myerson QC told him: 'The jury have rightly convicted you in my view of kidnapping.'

During the three-day trial Hocking had told the jury that Mr Roberts got into his car willingly after he pretended that he wanted to buy drugs from him. He then ordered him to empty his pockets and found two packets of yellow powder which analysts later said was 17 grams of amphetamines. He added: 'I was intending to give him the fright of his life.'

He admitted punching Mr Roberts on the side of his face and then kicking him repeatedly, but he denied hitting him with a three-and-a-half foot length of wood.

Asked by Geoffrey Hunter, his defence counsel, why he had not reported him to the police, Hocking replied: 'They would have gone to see him and all he had to do was to deny it. All the police have done is give the lad a caution for giving drugs to children. So he can go back on the streets and give more drugs to children. I just wanted to try and frighten him not to give drugs to kids so that maybe he would not do it again.'

Detective Sergeant Stephen Glass, of Seaham CID, said that since the incident in March Mr Roberts had been given a police caution after admitting possessing LSD and cannabis. But during the trial he admitted also supplying LSD to a 13-year-old boy.