'Lapdancers kidnapped club boss'

Three lapdancers and their manager have denied kidnap charges at Bristol Crown Court

Three lapdancers and their manager have denied kidnap charges at Bristol Crown Court

First published in National News © by

Three lapdancers and their manager kidnapped a club boss after he failed to pay them more than £42,000, a jury heard.

The women had been hired to work at a pop-up nightclub in Cheltenham to entertain racegoers during the famous Cheltenham Festival in March 2012.

Local businessman Curtis Woodman rented the Embassy Club in the Gloucestershire town, which did not hold a lapdancing licence.

DJ Chalottte Devaney, 34, from London, arranged a number of girls who would pay £150 each per night to work as hostesses and dancers at the club.

Bristol Crown Court heard the girls signed contracts agreeing to wear "bikinis and nipple tassels at all times" to comply with the licence.

But when the club opened, some of the girls "insisted on taking their clothes off" and the venture was shut down by officials on its third night.

The girls had already earned "considerable amounts of money", including £42,000 from one customer, but Mr Woodman refused to pay them, the court heard.

After months of chasing for payment, Devaney, along with three of the dancers - Mandy Cool, 29, Stephanie Pye, 31, and Rachel Goodchild, 24 - travelled to confront Mr Woodman.

The group were joined by two brothers, Alexander, 23, and Robert Morris, 27, and arrived at Mr Woodman's business premises in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

A jury of seven men and five women heard Mr Woodman was kidnapped, bundled into a BMW and driven to a remote field where he was attacked.

Giving evidence in police interview, Mr Woodman said the group had arrived at around 4pm on September 3 2012.

"They bundled me into the car and they said 'right, we are taking you off to have a talk'," Mr Woodman said.

"Charlotte [Devaney] was shouting at me. They were saying 'where's my money, where's my money' and I said I hadn't got any money.

"One of the blokes, I would describe as looking like Will Smith or Craig David, he hit me a few times throughout the ordeal.

"When we were in the car park, the other guy, the tubbier guy, took my Breitling off me."

Jurors were told the Breitling watch, worth £4,650, was found in Alexander Morris' anus following his arrest.

During the journey, a Stanley knife carried by Alexander Morris was pushed into Mr Woodman's leg, the court heard.

Mr Woodman was allegedly travelling in Devaney's BMW One Series convertible, sat between the Morris brothers, with Devaney driving and Pye in the passenger seat.

Cool was following the vehicle in her BMW Three Series, with Goodchild inside. Both cars drove on to the M5 and left at junction 10.

Mr Woodman's phone was confiscated and unsuccessful attempts were made to transfer money using a NatWest app, prosecutor Martin Steen told the jury.

"He was then persuaded to ring the bank and arrange for a transfer using the details of Charlotte Devaney's bank card," Mr Steen said.

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

Mr Woodman was taken 100 metres down an agricultural track before he was taken out of 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."

At around 6.30pm, after visiting a fish and chip shop, the group dumped Mr Woodman on a residential street in Cheltenham.

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

Before he was left, the Morris brothers told Mr Woodman to empty his pockets and hand over £60 of cash in them, he added.

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 and the defendants were arrested.

The court was told relations between the girls, Devaney and Mr Woodman soured after the club was closed down.

Mr Woodman said one customer, who had spent £700 on alcohol that evening, racked up a £42,000 bill on the second night.

But he claimed the money simply covered costs he had encountered setting up the club, which was closed down due to girls breaking the rules.

The club had an entertainment licence, which meant women were not to provide lapdancing or stripping services, save for one night a 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."

The following evening, 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."

Mr Woodman, in police interview, said the girls had signed contracts agreeing to forfeit their commissions if they broke the rules, including wearing clothes.

"If you have ever asked a stripper to keep her clothes on when she is working, it doesn't happen," he said. "I was constantly bombarding them 'put your clothes back on'."

He said the fact the rules were breached meant the girls were not entitled to the money.

Alexander Morris, from Southampton, has 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 Robert Morris, also from Southampton, concerning Mr Woodman's Breitling 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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