Kidnap Plotter Linked Journalist's Murder Jailed

Plan to 'honey trap' man based at Chiswick Business Park

The Police in Chiswick

Patrick 'Dutchy' Holland was sentenced to eight years in jail with the judge telling him that it was possible that he would end his life inside.

Five people, including the well known drug dealer once accused of killing Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, were found guilty of plotting to kidnap Chiswick businessman Nasir Zahid.

The £10 million plot centred on a a 24-year-old woman acting as a "honey-trap". Her role was to secure a job as a secretary at Zahid's Chiswick Business Park based company and then convince him to ask her out on a date.

The court heard allegations that the kidnap was ordered and financed by a Belgian businessman called Patrick van Cantfort, known as "The Banker", who felt Mr Zahid had double crossed him over a deal. Van Cantfort is wanted by the police but has yet to be arrested.

This initial plan failed when the woman was told there were no vacancies and before the gang could come up with an alternative plan all five were arrested.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard how ringleader Holland, who has always denied any involvement in the 1996 assassination of Ms Guerin, was secretly filmed and recorded planning to abduct a businessman and demand a ransom. The jury found the 68 year old guilty by a unanimous verdict of conspiracy to kidnap. His accomplices 24 year old Khan Coombs - the "honey trap", 38 year old Simon Young, 47 year old Gerrard Booth and 45 year old John McDonnell were also found guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Veronica Guerin was shot dead in June 1996 by the pillion passenger on a motorbike as she stopped at traffic lights at Naas, just outside Dublin. She had angered Dublin drug barons with her newspaper reporting into their activities and it is widely believed that Holland was the person who pulled the trigger.

The verdicts followed a two-month trial during which the jury was shown a large amount of surveillance evidence. Detective Inspector Paul Johnson, of the Metropolitan Police's Special Projects Team, said, "We can confidently say that London is a safer place with these individuals in jail."

May 4, 2008