iconimg Saturday, May 23, 2015

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times
London, March 23, 2014
Two men involved in the kidnapping of a British couple in Chennai in May 2013 have been sentenced to a total of 16.5 years in prison after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap, false imprisonment and blackmail at the Croydon Crown Court. The two jailed are Henry Ajanthan, 33 (for nine years) and Ramesh Sornalingam, 38 (for 7.5 years).
 
The police on Sunday said that on 25 May 2013, the unnamed victims, a 59-year-old man and his 54-year-old wife, flew to Colombo to attend a family wedding. Four days later, the couple flew to Chennai for a holiday.
 
On arrival in Chennai, they were met at the airport by a man purporting to be from their hotel. He took the couple to a waiting vehicle where they were kidnapped at knifepoint and driven away from the airport.
 
They were told they would be killed if they did not pay a ransom of £500,000 (later reduced to £300,000), he police said. The man then drove them to a house in a remote area about 100 miles from Chennai where they were held captive for over three days.

The police said that during this time the couple's 25-year-old daughter, who lives in London, received a number of telephone calls demanding the ransom payment for the release of her parents.

The Kidnap Unit of the Metropolitan Police worked with Indian authorities and on 1 June 2013, the Indian Police identified the location of the hostages, who were quickly rescued. Thirteen individuals in India were charged in connection with the kidnapping.

During the course of the investigation it became apparent that two men in the UK were involved in the kidnap. One of the men, Henry Ajanthan worked at a petrol station in Dorset owned by the victims. His accomplice, Ramesh Sornalingam was an associate of Ajanthan.

The role of Ajanthan, who had gambling debts, was to provide the victim's travel itinerary and a photograph of the male victim. Sornalingam then passed these details on to the kidnappers in India.

Ajanthan was arrested at the petrol station in Dorset on 2 June 2013. Sornalingam was arrested at his solicitor's office in London on 6 June 2013.

Craig Magee of the Kidnap Unit said: "The victims suffered a terrifying ordeal at the hands of a group of criminals who saw kidnap as an easy way to extort a large sum of money from this family. I am pleased that we were able to bring their ordeal to a swift conclusion”.