March 28 2015 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A woman, who is alleged to have been kidnapped and beaten by members of a Fenland family, was dragged into a car and threatened before being shoved into a plastic chair, surrounded by about 20 people armed with weapons and beaten, a court has heard.
Norwich Crown Court has heard how trouble flared after the death of Gertrude Frankham, in December 2012, at her home in Walpole St Andrew.
It is alleged the woman, who was heavily pregnant, and her partner were kidnapped on separate occasions and assaulted, so she made a false confession that her partner had smothered the grandmother with a pillow and had been stealing from her.
Giving evidence via video link today the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was “scared to death” after she had been dragged into a car and threatened by the female driver who hit her and another female passenger who “had something up against my neck which felt like it was metal”.
She told John Farmer, prosecuting, that the occupants of the car were calling her a liar and demanded that she tell them where her partner was.
Despite the threats and attacks she sustained on the 10 minute journey she failed to lead her captors to where her partner was and was then taken back to near where Gertrude Frankham lived where there were about “20 people or more”.
The court heard she was dragged out of the car and “shoved into a chair against some metal railings”.
She said: “I got punched in the side of my head.”
The blow perforated her ear drum meaning she could not hear much.
She said more people joined the group, many with weapons, including scythes, canes, metal poles, wood and a brick, surrounding her in a semi-circle.
She said: “I was punched and hit round the head with canes and poles and I believe there was a brick in my face.”
The victim, who was later dragged off the chair by her hair, said there was also “talk about a gun”.
Mr Farmer said: “Were you aware of anyone having a camera or using a phone as a camera?”
She replied “yes”.
Mr Farmer asked if it was one person or more than one person.
She said: “That was more than one person.”
Five defendants have already admitted their part in what happened to the couple.
Other family members on trial are Violet Chilton, 57, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; Edward Dolan, jr, 18, of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; and Thomas Chilton, 29, of Dades Lane, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.
Also in the dock are Jason Chilton, 27, of Dades Lane, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent and Vanessa Frankham, 48, of Wisbech Road, Walpole St Andrew, who denies kidnap, blackmail, wounding with intent and robbery.
Diane Evans, 18, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, denies one count of false imprisonment, and a 17-year-old denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.
The trial continues.