Suffolk

Ipswich woman 'locked for days in loft by gang'

Ipswich Crown Court
Image caption Four men are on trial at Ipswich Crown Court in connection with an alleged blackmail plot

A gang locked a woman in a loft for four days as part of a blackmail scam, a court heard.

Minique Rivett was repeatedly punched and denied food and water in a bid to reclaim an alleged £10,000 debt, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Her ordeal ended when she broke out and ran next door for help, jurors heard.

Louie Charles, 19, Tye Parker, 20 and Mubarak Jaye, 18, deny charges including false imprisonment and blackmail.

The three are accused of taking Ms Rivett, who lived in Ipswich with her mother, to a flat in London on 4 March.

The court heard she owed an undisclosed amount of money.

'Kicked door open'

Ms Rivett broke out of the loft on 8 March and ran to a neighbouring home shouting for help, the jury was told.

Opening the case on Tuesday, Prosecutor David Wilson said she "was able to push and kick the door to the loft open and ran down the stairs in a panic".

Members of the gang are further accused of kidnapping "vulnerable" Laurel Aiken, who lived at the flat in Tottenham.

On the day Ms Rivett escaped, the court heard, Mr Aiken was taken to Wolverhampton.

He had no connection to Ms Rivett but was taken from the flat because he was deemed easy to exploit, the court heard.

Mr Charles, of Colchester and Mr Parker, of Burr Close, Harwich, are accused of kidnapping Mr Aiken and holding him for more than a week at the home of Mr Charles' father, Cuthbert.

Mr Aiken was told he could not go back to his home "because [Ms Rivett] may die or Mubarak Jaye would kill him", Mr Wilson said.

Hidden in loft space

Mr Charles, 58, of Whitegreave Court, Wolverhampton, denies the false imprisonment of Mr Aiken alongside his son and Mr Parker.

When police attended Mr Charles's address, officers found his son and Mr Parker hiding in the loft space of a neighbouring guest house.

Louie Charles and Tye Parker also deny blackmail in relation to the captivity of Ms Rivett.

The trial continues.

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