Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Millionaire Kidnapper Gets 11 Years

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Millionaire Kidnapper Gets 11 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Passant

"Evil" Volker Kappler was today starting an 11-year jail term after being convicted of kidnapping and blackmailing two Teesside businessmen.

The millionaire factory boss was found guilty of masterminding the ruthless kidnap of Hartlepool businessmen John Wood and David Langhorne.

The terrified victims were hooded, handcuffed and driven 200 miles to North Wales, where they were threatened at gunpoint, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Kappler of Conwy, North Wales, denied kidnapping the two men and demanding pounds 600,000 with menaces.

Yesterday a jury found him guilty on two counts of kidnap and two of blackmail, by a majority verdict of 10-2.

Judge Richard Lowden told Kappler: "It was clearly premeditated. This was a professional crime.

"You hired a team of professional hitmen and you condoned their ruthless methods, their violence, the terror they inflicted.

"You thought that the terror you inflicted upon them would put you above the law."

Kappler was sentenced to ten years for the kidnap and blackmail offences, and was given a further 12 months when a suspended prison sentence imposed for false accounting was activated.

Detective Inspector Amanda Oliver, who headed the inquiry, said: "Volker Kappler is a self-styled millionaire whose obsession with an unpaid debt resulted in him bringing terror to two local businessmen.

"He hired a highly professional gang of ruthless criminals to snatch these men from Hartlepool and put them in fear of their lives in the hope of recovering the money owed by an associate of theirs.

"They endured a truly terrifying ordeal.

"The violence and intimidation they suffered has had a profound and continuing effect not only on their lives but the lives of their families.

"They have had to sell up and move home, such was the fear instilled by this man's actions.

"This trial has proved that Kappler is an evil and manipulative man.

"But let it be clear, no person is above the law no matter how much money and influence they think they have, and he now has several years to think about that in his prison cell. …

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