Kidnap and blackmail claims against singer Estelle’s cousin from Barking are “fantasy”


- Credit: Archant

Claims a 58-year-old man was kidnapped on a busy high street and blackmailed are “built on fantasy”, a court heard.

Defence counsel for Jude Lebaga, cousin of pop singer Estelle, who is accused along with two others of the attack, said alleged victim Bernard Morrisson’s account did not add up.

Elizabeth Lambert said: “His account is the foundation of this prosecution and as it is built on fantasy clearly everything falls away.”

Lebaga, 33, of Chelmer Crescent, Barking, Nathan James, 31, of Elmley Street, Plumstead, and Joe Grant, 34, of Thornhill Gardens, Leyton, deny bundling Mr Morrisson into his own Land Rover outside a pharmacy in Barking Road, East Ham on September 25 last year.

They allegedly punched him, used a stun gun on him and demanded his drug-dealer son paid back the £200 he owed.

Mr Morrisson said he managed to escape only when the car stopped 30 miles away in Southend, Essex.

But at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday (4), the court heard how Mr Morrison gave different explanations of the incident in his 999 call and later to police.

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He had also described fleeing the vehicle and running away despite claiming he could not walk without a stick and was recovering from a heart attack.

“How can a man who suffers from these conditions while in the clutches of some monster jump out of the car and run up the road?” asked Ms Lambert.

She also queried his account of his injuries, having first said he was punched seven times in the face but sustaining no bruising.

Lebaga chose not to testify and was not identified by Mr Morrisson.

Co-defendants Grant and James admit they were present but said they were trying to buy cannabis growing equipment from Mr Morrisson.

Judge Louise Kamell noted in her summing up Bernard Morrisson’s previous convictions, the last of which was in 1998 and which include wounding, burglary, theft and obtaining property by deception.

She told the jury: “The defence’s case is that [Mr Morrisson] lied all along about the events that day.”

The jury are due to go out this morning.