Campaign of torture was the revenge of 'Mr Big'

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The Independent Online

A crime godfather was jailed for 22 years yesterday for plotting a series of sadistic revenge attacks against gangsters who tried to kill him in an underworld feud.

A crime godfather was jailed for 22 years yesterday for plotting a series of sadistic revenge attacks against gangsters who tried to kill him in an underworld feud.

Stephen Lydiate, 33, organised a campaign of kidnappings and torture to track down the gang who sprayed him with 14 bullets as he ate in a pub in Salford, Greater Manchester, in April last year.

Preston Crown Court heard how Lydiate used a British Telecom worker on his payroll to provide him with names, addresses and ex-directory phone numbers to track down his attackers.

The information was then used by Lydiate, who ran a series of criminal enterprises in the Salford area, to employ a hand-picked gang armed with sub-machine guns to torture "suspects" for information.

A jury convicted Lydiate of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to kidnap and false imprisonment after two weeks of deliberation following a 12-week trial amid tight security at the court.

Four accomplices were jailed for a total of 41 years after being found guilty of charges including plotting murder, blackmail, plotting false imprison- ment and conspiracy to kidnap.

Judge Peter Openshaw QC, sentencing Lydiate, said: "You were driven to revenge and hand-picked men known for violence to demonstrate your power over gang rivals."

One of Lydiate's victims, 37-year-old James Kent, was snatched from his bed and driven to a remote farm before being tortured during 80 hours of captivity. He was shot in both legs before a tree branch and salt were pushed into the wounds to make him reveal the identity of the assassin. He also had the barrel of a gun shoved into his mouth.

A £10,000 ransom was demanded from Mr Kent's family for his release before heescaped by slipping sleeping tablets into his guard's drink.

Another of the four kidnap victims, 35-year old Tony Shenton, was found in a stolen van near a hospital with gunshot wounds to his leg after being held captive for 13 hours.

Lydiate was driven to revenge after a masked assassin walked into the Ship Pub in Salford last year and opened fire, hitting him in the chest, abdomen, arm, elbow and thigh.

The shooting was linked to a protection racket turf war in Salford following the jailing of another local crime boss.

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