Hartlepool boxer denies ‘Chicago gangster-style’ kidnap

ACCUSED: Christopher Burton outside Teesside Crown Court.
ACCUSED: Christopher Burton outside Teesside Crown Court.

A HEAVYWEIGHT boxer accused of kidnapping a drug dealer and locking him in a container says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Christopher Burton, nicknamed High Tower, of Hartlepool, is on trial for being part of a gang that allegedly dragged cannabis seller David Foster out of a taxi and threatened to torture and kill him.

This is not Chicago back in the 1920s or thirties. This is criminal, thuggish behaviour in one of our towns.

Burton, 34, accepts being with co-defendants Anthony Cooper, who Mr Foster claims he sold £150,000 worth of cannabis for, Jonathan Lockey and Damian Mottram, when they confronted Mr Foster.

The prosecution claim Burton, who was once ranked tenth in the British Heavyweight rankings, was used as a “heavy” to intimidate Mr Foster who wanted to stop selling drugs for Cooper.

He and Cooper are accused of threatening to chop off his fingers and break his legs after bundling him into Lockey’s car in Darlington on July 23 last year.

But Burton said he did not know what was happening and claims his presence prevented violence being inflicted on Mr Foster.

In his closing address to the jury, prosecutor Shaun Dodds said: “They are all in it together and each plays their role.

“This defendant is effectively the heavy. At the end of the day you can’t go around grabbing people off the street.

“This is not Chicago back in the 1920s or thirties. This is criminal, thuggish behaviour in one of our towns.

“The prosecution say he (Burton) may regret it but this defendant was party to it.”

Burton, of Brierton Lane, Hartlepool, denies forcing Mr Foster into the car and says he was not locked in the container.

Rod Hunt, defending, said the victim had exaggerated his claims and could not be trusted.

He said of his client Burton: “He’s a decent bloke. Something did prevent this going further and I suggest it was the presence of Mr Burton, he wouldn’t allow it to happen.

“His evidence is this state of affairs started to enact itself without his prior knowledge. He just happened to be there when Foster was spotted.”

Burton denies kidnap and false imprisonment.

Cooper, 30, of Bamburgh Place; Mottram, 29, of Teesway, both Darlington; and Lockey, of Bullamoor Road, Northallerton have pleaded guilty to false imprisonment.