Man who kidnapped family is jailed for life

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The Independent Online

A man who kidnapped three members of a family and a friend at gunpoint after posing as a potential house buyer was jailed for life yesterday.

A man who kidnapped three members of a family and a friend at gunpoint after posing as a potential house buyer was jailed for life yesterday.

Peter Robert Hughes, 58, abducted Marilyn Rowell, a businesswoman, her two children aged eight and 11, and a family friend days after his release from prison where he was serving time for kidnapping an estate agent at gunpoint.

Hughes pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and possession of a firearm, for which he was given life, and kidnapping, for which he was jailed for six years.

Judge Hawkesworth said: "There are a number of highly aggravating features... young children were present, theoffence was committed very soon after your release, it was premeditated and it involved quite plainly a terrifying experience for all those concerned."

Leeds Crown Court was told that on 26 April, Hughes had posed as a potential buyer under a false name and gone to view Mrs Rowell's £250,000 house in Horsforth, Leeds.

He returned that evening, saying his wife was also coming to see the property. But an hour later when she had not arrived, Mrs Rowell offered to drive Hughes to his hotel, accompanied by her children, Gabby, 11, Gregory, eight, and her friend Dawn Birks, 39.

In the car, Hughes locked the doors and held a handgun to Mrs Rowell's waist. He forced her to drive to her business premises to fetch £60 and then to his hotel in Leeds, where Ms Birks was told to collect some of his belongings.

Tom Mitchell, for the prosecution, said the gun, which could fire blank cartridges, had gone off. Hughes then dropped the four at a railway station. Two days later he was arrested at a pub in Bradford.

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