Friday 2 December 2016

Kidnapped businessman uses Google to free himself

John Clarke Spence kidnapped Sander Cokelaere and tied him to a tree

Published 13/10/2015 | 19:06

Palmers Lane, Goadby, where Spence took the businessman
Palmers Lane, Goadby, where Spence took the businessman
Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Belgian businessman who was kidnapped at gunpoint and chained to a tree in a rural area in Leicstershire, was reportedly able to secure his freedom by using Google.

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John Clarke Spence, 51, of Countesthorpe, targeted Sander Cokelaere and demanded tens of thousands of pounds from the victim's boss.

Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Spence, an ironworks company owner, carried out the disturbing plot because he felt that SMET UK Ltd, the Belgian-based company his victim worked for, owed him £2,000, Leicester Crown Court heard, according to The Leicseter Mercury.

Finding himself in financial difficulty, Spence created an email address under a false name, and contacted the company posing as a customer interested in purchasing a staircase.

Disguising himself in a wig, hat and sunglasses, Spence pretended to be a builder and met with Mr Cokelaere in Oadby, Leicester on 30 June.

He then told Mr Cokelaere he would take him to meet other potential clients, but instead drove him to an isolated area in Palmers Lane, in the village of Goadby.

There, he threatened Mr Cokelaere with a Walther airgun, which resembles a semi-automatic handgun, and demanded his bank card Pin number.

Spence then withdraw £500 from a cashpoint, and called Mr Cokelaere's boss, Peter Castro, and ordered him to pay him £45,000.

Spence told Mr Castro that if he did not comply and called the police, he would hack into his computer and download child pornography, as well as accuse him of taking cocaine, Mail Online reported.

However, unbeknownst to Spence, Mr Cokelaere had stashed away his phone in his sock.

Mr Cokelaere was able to save himself by Googling his whereabouts, and sending a photo of his location to his boss, who raised the alarm.

Spence admitted to blackmail, kidnap, theft and fraudulent use of a bank card, and possessing an imitation firearm.

He has been sentenced to eight years in jail

Independent News Service

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