Men cleared after kidnap plot

THREE men have been cleared of helping imprison an Ipswich nightclub owner and demanding a ransom for his release.Their alleged victim, Graeme Hammond, 45, had claimed the trio were linked to a much larger gang that attacked him in his home in Clapham, south west London and beat him repeatedly.

THREE men have been cleared of helping imprison an Ipswich nightclub owner and demanding a ransom for his release.

Their alleged victim, Graeme Hammond, 45, had claimed the trio were linked to a much larger gang that attacked him in his home in Clapham, south west London and beat him repeatedly.

Delaney Smart, 30, of Holmesdale Road, Kilburn, north-west London; Andrew Baker, 37, of Old Barnstaple Road, Barnstaple, Devon and David Davenport, 35, of Somerville Road, South Harrow, north-west London, had all denied one count of false imprisonment and one of blackmail in March last year.

The jury trying them decided they had instead been trying to protect the businessman, and return unanimous not guilty verdicts on both counts.

The two-week trial at Inner London Crown Court heard Mr Hammond's problems began after he moved into the world of nightclubs during the autumn of 2001.

Graeme Hammond, owns the Buddha Bar and Opium Lounge in Ipswich and clubs in Romford and Manchester, both called the Buddha Lounge.

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Mr Hammond had acquired clubs in Ipswich, Romford and Manchester for £2 in 2001 from an acquaintance as they had £1.6 million debts.

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