City dancers go on trial after denying kidnap of club boss

Hampshire lapdancers accused of kidnap

Mandy Cool

Rachel Goodchild

First published in News
Last updated

THREE lapdancers and their manager kidnapped a club boss after he failed to pay them more than £42,000, a court has been told.

The women, two of whom are from Southampton, had been hired to work at a pop-up nightclub to provide entertainment for customers during the famous Cheltenham Festival in March 2012.

Local businessman Curtis Woodman had rented the Embassy Club in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to provide ''entertainment'' for racegoers over a five-day period.

DJ Charlotte Devaney, 34, from London, arranged a number of girls to work as hostesses and dancers at the club.

Bristol Crown Court heard the club failed to secure a lapdancing licence and girls signed contracts agreeing they would wear ''bikinis and nipple tassels at all times''.

But when the club opened some of the girls, who paid £150 per night to work there, ''insisted on taking their clothes off'' and it was shut down by officials.

The girls had earned ''considerable amounts of money'' during the three nights - including £42,000 from one customer - but Mr Woodman refused to pay them, the court heard.

Devaney spent months chasing Mr Woodman for the ''debt'' before visiting a police station in Cheltenham on September 3, where she was advised to take civil action.

Later that day, Devaney, along with dancers Mandy Cool, 29, Stephanie Pye, 31, and Rachel Goodchild, 24, met with brothers Alexander, 23, and Robert Morris, 27.

The group headed to Mr Woodman's work in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, in two cars, where they ''kidnapped him'', the jury of seven men and five women was told.

Prosecuting, Martin Steen said: ''Miss Devaney made clear she though that there would need to be a discussion with Mr Woodman.

''He was helped into Miss Devaney's car by the Morrises, who sat either side of him in the back of the vehicle.

''Mr Woodman was wearing a Breitling watch. It was seen by the Morrises and he was required to hand it over.

''They had in their possession a Stanley knife. He was under threat. He had no choice but to hand over that watch, worth £4,800, and he did so.''

Mr Steen said that when Alexander Morris was later arrested, the watch was discovered in his anus.

During the drive, Mr Woodman was sat in Devaney's BMW One Series with her, the Morris brothers and Stephanie Pye. Cool, in her BMW Three Series, with Goodchild, followed.

Mr Woodman was allegedly struck twice in the face by Robert Morris as the car drove onto the M5 and left at junction 10.

His phone was confiscated and attempts were made to transfer money using a banking app, which were unsuccessful, Mr Steen said.

''He was then persuaded to ring the bank and arrange for a transfer using the details of Charlotte Devaney's bank card,'' he told the jury.

''£4,800 was transferred into Charlotte Devaney's account.''

Mr Woodman was then taken 100 metres down an agricultural track, where he was taken out the vehicle by the Morris brothers, it was alleged.

''They told him they were going to have some fun,'' Mr Steen said. ''That involved hitting him to the face and kicking him to the face, causing him to bleed.

''It was suggested that they should pay a visit to his parents, perhaps dealing with his parents might encourage satisfaction of the debt that was owed.''

Mr Woodman directed the vehicles to an empty property he claimed was his home - stating he had left the keys in his office - before the cars set off again.

He was then driven to a fish and chip shop and left him in the car, Mr Steen said.

''Mr Woodman was later released with threats that if he didn't pay the rest of the money, they would be back,'' Mr Steen said.

Police, who had already been tipped off by a business partner of Mr Woodman's he had called during the drive, traced the two BMWs.

The Morris brothers, Cool and Goodchild were arrested from Cool's BMW at 8.30pm that evening, on the A34 in Hampshire.

Devaney was arrested at an address the following day, while Pye handed herself into a police station later.

Mr Steen said Devaney and the girls hatched a plan to kidnap Mr Woodman after months of chasing him for payment.

''As far as the girls were concerned, they were hoping to have their share of the credit card payment of £42,000,'' Mr Steen said.

''Mr Woodman felt that the girls had broken their contracts and were not entitled to keep the money.''

Mr Steen explained the entertainment licence the club had meant the women were not allowed to provide lapdancing or stripping services, save for one day of the month.

''The contracts stated that clothes - bikinis and nipple tassels - were to be worn at all times,'' Mr Steen said.

''On the Monday night, some of the girls would not adhere to the rules, they insisted on taking their clothes off. Complaints came to be made.''

On the Tuesday night, during which the £42,000 transaction was made, the club held the permitted one day of ''full entertainment'', including stripping services, he said.

''On the Wednesday, police and licensing officers paid the club a visit,'' he said.

''The girls were not adhering to the rules. As a result, the club was closed down.''

Earlier, Alexander Morris, from Southampton, 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 brother Robert Morris, also from Southampton, concerning Mr Woodman's Brietling 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, continues.

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