independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Lap-dancers and boss cleared of kidnapping nightclub owner

Women will now sue over £42k 'owed' for their Cheltenham week wages

Manager Charlottte Devaney, left, and lapdancer Stephanie Pye

Entertainment beyond the racetrack is just one of the reasons that marks Cheltenham apart in the social calendar.

A case resulting in the acquittal yesterday of three lapdancers and their manager, accused of kidnapping a club boss who failed to pay them £42,000 (€51,136) in wages, in a Cheltenham court can only further embellish the colourful reputation of the historic festival.

Last night, the lap dancers spoke of their relief through the offices of their spokesperson, DJ and producer Charlotte Devaney (34) who recruited the lapdancers.

Ms Devaney, said they were pleased by the verdict following the three-and-a-half-week trial at Bristol Crown Court.

"It is the right verdict," she said.

She once starred alongside comedian and actor Simon Pegg in hit Hollywood comedy 'How To Lose Friends And Alienate People' and collaborated with US rapper Snoop Dogg on her single 'Flip It'.

"We are now looking forward to getting on with our lives now," Ms Devaney added.

The extraordinary tale unfolded during the celebrated race meeting.

Ms Devaney, along with lapdancers Mandy Cool (29) Stephanie Pye (31) and Rachel Goodchild (24) and brothers Alex Morris (23) and Robert Morris (27) were accused of kidnapping businessman Curtis Woodman (34).

Outside court, Robert Morris celebrated his acquittal by revealing his "lucky" 'Will Smith For President' T-shirt – a cheeky reference to comments Mr Woodman made to the jury saying he looked like the Hollywood actor.

"I'm ecstatic," the professional Muay Thai fighter said.

Giving evidence during the case, Ms Devaney said: "You don't make girls take their clothes off and then not pay them to work."

The court heard that in March 2012, she recruited 60 lapdancers to work for Mr Woodman at his pop-up nightclub during the famous Cheltenham Festival.

BIKINIS

Authorities closed the Embassy Club in Cheltenham on its third night because the dancers stripped off – despite rules ordering them to wear nipple tassels and bikinis.

Mr Woodman refused to pay Ms Devaney and the lapdancers, who paid £150 each per night to work at his club, more than £42,000 they had earned during its first two nights.

After six months of the women repeatedly asking for the money, Ms Devaney, the three dancers and the Morris brothers, drove to Mr Woodman's work premises in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, to demand answers.

Mr Woodman claimed the women – wearing miniskirts, stilettos and Daisy Duke shorts – surrounded him and bundled him into a BMW where he was threatened with a knife and assaulted.

He insisted that during the two-hour incident, on September 3, 2012, he was robbed of £60 and his £4,650 Breitling Skyland Avenger watch, and was forced to transfer £4,800 to Ms Devaney.

However, a jury rejected Mr Woodman's account, following two days of deliberations.

Ms Devaney, of London; Ms Cool, of Southampton; Miss Pye, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands; and Miss Goodchild, of Southampton, were cleared of a charge of kidnapping Mr Woodman.

The brothers, both from Southampton, were also cleared of kidnapping the businessman. Robert Morris was cleared of robbing him of £60.

Alex Morris, who refused to attend court to hear the verdict, was convicted of robbing Mr Woodman of the Breitling watch and £60.

He had previously admitted carrying a bladed article, namely a Stanley knife, on the day of the incident.

Civil proceedings will now take place against Mr Woodman for the disputed £42,000 in wages.

The court heard that the £42,000 sum related to money from one customer, named only as "Steve" in court, who had won £50,000 at the races that day and who later spent six hours with lapdancers at the club.

Irish Independent

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