Man jailed for kidnapping boy who was said to have made money from bitcoin

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

A schoolboy who was thought to have made money trading in bitcoin was kidnapped by a gang who demanded £10,000 for his safe return, a court heard.

The 14-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was confronted outside a takeaway in Bradford in May and bundled into a car.

After one of the kidnappers put his hand over the boy’s mouth, the child was punched and forced into the back of a Toyota Auris.

Muhammed Khubaib, who owned the car, activated the vehicle’s central locking as the boy sat between two men in the back.

Khubaib, 22, then punched him in the face with a glove containing sand, Bradford crown court heard.

The prosecutor Laura McBride said the boy was told he would have to phone his mother and tell her to hand over “£10,000 or her son wouldn’t be going home”.

The boy’s mother was called and she described how the kidnappers demanded money while her son was crying, the court heard.

Watch: What is bitcoin?

McBride said it was agreed the mother would give the men £900 and she came out of her home to hand over the cash when Khubaib drove the Auris to the house.

The incident was subsequently reported to the police and Khubaib was arrested a few days later.

He pleaded guilty to charges of kidnap and blackmail, but the court heard that the three other men involved had not been identified or prosecuted. Khubaib was sentenced to four years.

The recorder of Bradford, Judge Richard Mansell QC, said the boy had “clearly been targeted” by the men.

He said they kidnapped him after seeing social media posts that suggested he had made “a reasonable amount of money” from trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.

The court heard the victim was no longer living in Bradford and Mansell said the offending had resulted in “profound consequences” for the youngster and his family.

Speaking after sentencing, DC Paul Maxwell of West Yorkshire police said: “We welcome the sentence which has been passed down to Khubaib today at court. He pleaded guilty to both counts he was charged with in May.

“The victim, a young teenager, was vulnerable to criminal exploitation and Khubaib tried to exploit him for money.

“This was an incredibly distressing incident for both the victim and the victim’s mother, but thankfully both were not injured during the incident and have been given help and support by the police and partner agencies.”

Watch: What are the risks of investing in cryptocurrency?

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