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£10m kidnap plot nets Irish criminal eight-year stretch

PUBLISHED: 15:26 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:45 12 August 2010

TRAGIC: Ciaran Hinds and Cate Blanchett in the 2003 film Veronica Guerin, based on the events surrounding the reporter’s death.

TRAGIC: Ciaran Hinds and Cate Blanchett in the 2003 film Veronica Guerin, based on the events surrounding the reporter's death.

A CONVICTED Irish criminal suspected of murdering Dublin journalist Veronica Guerin was jailed for eight years last Friday for masterminding a £10 million kidnap plot.

A CONVICTED Irish criminal suspected of murdering Dublin journalist Veronica Guerin was jailed for eight years last Friday for masterminding a £10 million kidnap plot.

Patrick 'Dutchy' Holland, 68, from Lewisham, organised a gang including lorry driver Simon Young, 38, of Central Avenue, Welling, to kidnap a Chiswick-based company director.

The man dubbed as one of Ireland's most notorious criminals also hired lorry drivers Gerard Booth and John McDonnell to perform the snatch.

Unemployed Khan Coombs, 24, of Russett Way, Lewisham, was to be used as a 'honeytrap' to lure Nasir Zahid into a suitable kidnap position. Holland was jailed for 20 years in 1997 for possession of cannabis, although it was reduced to 12 years on appeal. During his trial in Dublin, a Garda police officer said she believed he was the gunman who had killed Mrs Guerin in her car in 1996.

The Sunday Independent reporter, who left behind a husband and a child, was murdered after waging a high-profile campaign against Ireland's drug barons.

The scandal inspired a 2003 film starring Cate Blanchett in the title role.

The kidnap plot was foiled after detectives secretly filmed gang members and bugged their calls as they staked out Mr Zahid's west London offices and home.

Patrick Van Cantfort allegedly financed the plan and recruited Holland to organise the kidnapping of Mr Zahid.

After a month long trial at Blackfriars Crown Court, a jury convicted Holland, McDonnell, Booth and Coombs of conspiracy to kidnap. Young was also convicted of the plot and a further count of having an ME38 blank-firing revolver which had been converted to shoot live rounds.

McDonnell was jailed for eight years, Booth for seven years, Coombs for four years and Young for 11 years.

Holland, Coombs, and McDonnell, all of Russett Way, Lewisham, Young and Booth, of Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, County Down, Northern Ireland, all denied but were convicted of conspiracy to kidnap between March 10 and May 2, 2007.

Young was convicted of having a firearm but cleared of possessing it with intent to kidnap.

He earlier admitted possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate.

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