Joiner in ‘miracle escape’ from kidnap gang: Burnley man in murder trial

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A JOINER who witnessed the terrifying kidnap attack of a site manager, who is alleged to have been killed by a Burnley man, has re-lived the ordeal in court.

Mr David Collier was in his car following alleged victim Mr Paul Brady along a quiet road in Weir, Bacup, after they finished working on a house when the pair were ambushed.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court has heard that 43-year-old site manager Mr Brady, who was leading a double life as a drug dealer, was bundled into a car and driven off after the violent gang attack and has never been seen since.

Paul Devalda (35), of Padiham Road, Burnley, denies murdering Mr Brady, an alternative charge of manslaughter and conspiring to kidnap him. Alongside him is Heath Bowling (38), of High Lane, Stockport, who denies attempting to pervert the course of justice by giving false details about a car to the DVLA and the police.

Devalda’s girlfriend Stacia Crossley (28), also of Padiham Road, is in the dock denying three charges of assisting an offender.

Mr Collier, who gave evidence behind screens, told the jury the incident happened on the afternoon of August 1st 2009 after they finished work on a house in Lynns Court, Weir.

Mr Brady set off in his white van along Beaufort Road and he followed in his mother’s Mercedes.

Mr Collier said: “Paul was about eight or nine car lengths away and I saw him use his brakes.

“A goldy, sandy coloured car moved from the right side of the road onto the wrong side and pulled in front of Paul. He slammed on his brakes and started reversing.

“He exited his car and started running past me screaming, ‘just run, run.’”

Mr Collier said a vehicle had pulled up behind him and he saw a group of 10 to 15 men all dressed in black and wearing balaclavas.

“He ran into the group of people and they started hitting him with all kinds of weapons – bats and metal bars.

“As I got pulled out of my car I saw someone with a gun. I didn’t see it being used, he was just standing there with it,it seemed to be a shotgun.

“Paul was on the floor. He was screaming. He was being hit with the weapons very hard. Someone tried to smash my window and told me to get out.”

Mr Collier said he was dragged towards the group and was hit over the head before a man threatened him with a knife.

“I panicked and tried get him off me. I was successful and was able to get away. I jumped into the river and waded my way down it towards Lynns Court.”

Mr Collier, who suffered a gash to his head, went to a nearby farm where he knew the farmer. When he got there he sent his uncle a text to pick him up, which he did.

He said he went to his uncle’s home and then back to Beaufort Road where police had arrived.

Cross-examined by Mr Michael Wolfkind QC (defending Devalda) he denied knowing that Mr Brady and his boss, Stephen Balint, were involved with drugs.

Mr Collier agreed with his suggestion that he had had “a miracle escape.” He also agreed that he had not called the police and said he had gone back to the scene as he was worried about his mother’s car.

Asked if he had been asked by police “to join in a conspiracy to frame Devalda,” Mr Collier said he had not.

The judge, Mr Justice Royce, pointed out it was a serious allegation and asked Mr Wolfkind if his case was that a police officer had invited Mr Collier to be part of a conspiracy to frame Devalda. (Proceeding)