A suspected drug dealer was kidnapped in broad daylight outside a supermarket in
Victim Steven Miller was hit around the head and body by a truncheon and weightlifting bar and had his hands bound with duct tape in after being bundled into the back of a car.
He was driven from the car park of the One Stop shop in Woodwater Lane in Exeter through the city and out to Huxham Brake woods between Stoke Canon and Poltimore.
He was rescued after a local farmer became suspicious of a strange car on land where he stores his trailers and alerted the police, Exeter Crown Court was told.
They had already launched a major search after being alerted by builders who witnessed the violent abduction.
The kidnap was carried out by four men from
George Watts, aged 22, of
Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said Watts is a long standing friend of Pugh, who comes from
He said the four others travelled together from
He said text messages showed Pugh telling
He said Mr Miller was dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into
In the woods his wrists were bound with silver duct tape and he was attacked, leaving a bleeding wound on he head, and injuries to his chin, neck, shoulders, back, legs, arms and ribs.
A farmer spotted the car on his land and called the police.
Mr Evans said: ”The prosecution say this case is the antithesis of the idea there is honour among thieves. As will become apparent from the text messages. These defendants were carrying out a taxing exercise.
“This was criminals targeting people they believed to be drug dealers and attempting to steal their money or their drugs.
“They were going to tax Mr Miller, who they believed to be a drug dealer. When they took him to the woods they demanded £5,000 or to be given his drugs.
“There were text messages from Pugh to
“It was suggested if there is someone else they can tax they will do them as well. This was an organised trip from
Mr Evans said