Boss 'kidnapped by lapdancers'

Halstead Gazette: Charlotte Devaney denies a charge of kidnap 
Charlotte Devaney denies a charge of kidnap

A club boss has told a court of the moment he was kidnapped by three lapdancers and their manager - with the women wearing "miniskirts, stilettos and Daisy Duke shorts".

Curtis Woodman was outside his work premises in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, when the women and two men drove up in two BMWs.

Mr Woodman told jurors at Bristol Crown Court the group "surrounded him" before bundling him into one of the vehicles and driving off.

It is alleged that Mr Woodman, from Cheltenham, was kidnapped, robbed of £60 cash and his £4,650 Brietling watch, and assaulted during the two-hour incident on September 3 2012.

Mr Woodman also claims he was forced to transfer £4,800 into the bank account of the lapdancers' manager, Charlotte Devaney, while in the vehicle.

The women believed he owed them more than £42,000 for work they carried out at his pop-up nightclub during the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012.

Taking to the witness stand, Mr Woodman said he had received calls demanding the money from Charlotte Devaney, 34, for months.

He said he recognised Devaney and lapdancers Mandy Cool, 29, Stephanie Pye, 31, and Rachel Goodchild, 24, when they arrived at his work at around 4pm.

Brothers Robert Morris, 27, who Mr Woodman said looked like "Will Smith or Craig David" and Alexander Morris, 23, were also with the women.

"I was already stood outside when they pulled up," said Mr Woodman, who stood behind a screen to give evidence.

"I wasn't given the chance to say anything, to be honest. They surrounded me.

"I was worried for my safety. He (Alexander Morris) pushed me in the car, he followed me and he sat next to me.

"He had a knife on him."

Representing Robert Morris, Khalid Missouri suggested that Mr Woodman had entered the car by his own free will.

"That doesn't sound like people who would want to kidnap someone, does it?" he asked.

"Coming back to the real world: stilettos, miniskirts, guys in normal clothing, Daisy Dukes?

"That doesn't sound like an intention to kidnap you."

Mr Woodman replied: "There was obviously some intention."

He denied claims he had told the group he did not want to discuss the matter there and suggested going elsewhere.

Mr Woodman also denied he was assaulted by Robert Morris after insulting his girlfriend, Mandy Cool, as they travelled in the car.

"You were saying to Robert Morris, 'what are you doing with her for? Look what she does with her money, she's not even good looking'.

"That's the first time Robert Morris punched you, because you were disrespecting his girlfriend."

He denied he had shown Robert Morris nude pictures of his girlfriend, who had recently undergone breast enhancement surgery.

The court was also played the second hour of Mr Woodman's police interview, taken the day after the alleged kidnapping.

He described his Brietling watch, later found in the anus of Alexander Morris, as his "pride and joy".

"It is a Breitling Avenger Skyland with a 44mm face," he said. "It is my pride and joy."

Yesterday, the jury heard Mr Woodman rented the Embassy Club in Cheltenham, which did not hold a lapdancing licence, for five days during the Cheltenham Festival.

When the club opened, some of the girls were hired to work as dancers and hostesses "insisted on taking their clothes off".

They had allegedly previously signed contracts agreeing to wear "bikinis and nipple tassels at all times" to comply with the licence.

On the third night of the club opening, police and officials shut it down after receiving complaints.

The girls had already earned "considerable amounts of money", including £42,000 from one customer, but Mr Woodman refused to pay them, the court heard.

He felt that the girls were not entitled to the money, as they had failed to comply with the terms of their contracts.

Their contracts including a clause stating they agreed to forfeit any commission earned if they did not keep to the rules, prosecutor Martin Steen told the jury.

Alexander Morris, from Southampton, has admitted carrying a bladed article, namely a Stanley knife, on September 3 2012, the day of the alleged kidnap.

He denies a charge of robbery, along with Robert Morris, also from Southampton, concerning Mr Woodman's Breitling watch.

The brothers are also charged with robbery, concerning £60 Mr Woodman gave them from his pocket before his release. They deny the charge.

Devaney, from London; Pye, from Sutton Coldfield; Cool, of Southampton; and Goodchild, of Southampton, each deny a charge of kidnap on September 3 2012.

The trial, in front of judge Geoffrey Mercer and expected to last up to three weeks, continues.

Mr Woodman denied claims he had concocted the case based on the 2005 Guy Richie film Revolver.

In cross examination, Khalid Missouri for Robert Morris asked: "Did you make the whole thing up in order to get away with not paying the girls?

"You do like money, don't you?"

Mr Woodman denied the claim, stating that he was a businessman and "everybody likes money".

Mr Missouri asked whether Mr Woodman was familiar with the phrase 'in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch'.

Mr Woodman replied: "It is referring to when you work for a large company, when you retire you always get a slap on the back and a gold watch."

"It is from the film Revolver," Mr Missouri said. "It is about getting attention. You are not just doing this to get attention?

"Guy Richie likes to make gangster movies, have you been watching too many of them? When you recall your evidence have you watched too many gangster movies?"

Mr Woodman replied: "No, I don't usually watch TV."

The court was told civil proceedings have been launched concerning the disputed money.

Mr Woodman denied he had given away his treasured Breitling in part-payment towards the sum.

"He [Alexander Morris] saw it and sort of said 'whoa, nice watch, let's have it," Mr Woodman told the jury.

"He had a Stanley knife in his hand at the time. After I had been bundled into the car, I didn't think I was in a position to say 'get your own watch'.

"I was in fear of my life. I didn't have a clue what was going on."

He stated that during the two-hour long incident, he had suffered between 10 and 12 blows to his face from Robert Morris.

"After this ordeal, I was in fear of my life," Mr Woodman added.

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