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‘Highly suspicious’ kidnapping case could have been extortion plot B.C. court rules

Doubts emerged about whether a B.C. man was involved in his own 2019 kidnapping
The case of a possible kidnapping led to lesser charges as reasonable doubts emerged about whether the kidnapped man was involved in his capture. (File photo)

Three men were charged with kidnapping another back in 2019, but a B.C. Supreme Court Justice wasn’t convinced that the kidnapping was real.

It’s a case that involves guns, drugs, cash, simulated torture videos and a brazen attempt to evade RCMP by leaping over an 11-storey condo balcony. Abdulkadir Handule, Abdullah Abdullahi, and Obinna Njoku were charged with the kidnapping of Arnold Hue between July 2 through 4, 2019.

Justice Janet Winteringham wrote that the events were ‘highly suspicious’ and left her unable to prove the kidnapping charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately, Handule and Abdullahi were found guilty of unlawful confinement and Njoku was acquitted.

It all began at an underground parkade at Metrotown Mall where Hue alleges he was kidnapped at gunpoint by the three men. Hue was transported to a Burnaby condo in a Dodge Charger driven by and registered to Njoku. Security footage shows the four men entering the condo where Hue was held for ransom until the RCMP ‘rescued’ him on July 4.

While in the apartment, Handule and Abdullahi created simulated torture videos of Hue, including one where he was tied up in a bathtub with a fake blood substance smeared around the bathroom to make it look like they had cut off Hue’s thumb. Other videos showed Hue crying and being tied up with twine in one of the condo’s bedrooms. Text messages obtained by police show the pair discussing the need to make it seem like they were torturing Hue to get an unknown person to pay a higher ransom.

Njoku was not present for much of Hue’s confinement, including the creation of the videos. However, he was present when RCMP arrived.

When the RCMP entered the condo on July 4, Handule, Abdullahi and Njoku fled to the balcony and began to climb down to the lower storeys of the building. Handule was found on a balcony a few stories below with a firearm by his feet, Abdullahi fell to the ground was found in a rhododendron bush and Njoku fled to a balcony on the 10-storey. From there, Njoku broke through a sliding glass door and attempted to blend in with condo residents who were being evacuated. He even went as far to pick up a small child and carry her down the stairs “much to the dismay of her mother”. Njoku was subsequently arrested in the lobby.

Despite the evidence against them, the defendants claimed that Hue was complicit in the kidnapping as an attempt to extort money from his criminal associates.

Before July 2, Hue was involved in assisting an associate named David Cheung in shipping packages and collecting money believed to be linked to drug trafficking. At the time, Cheung owed Hue approximately $6,000. Hue had agreed to assist Cheung with a “favour” on June 30, 2019. In his testimony, Hue was hazy on the details of that favour, changing his testimony several times. Winteringham wrote that Hue was either “unable or unwilling” to recall the details.

However, Hue was consistent in saying he was instructed to receive $3,000 from unknown persons and bring that money to the Metrotown Parkade where he was “kidnapped”. Hue said he used his time waiting at Metrotown to run some errands, including purchasing a Nike backpack. Whether on purpose or by accident, Hue parked in one of the few areas of the parade that was not visible to CCTV cameras. He said he was kidnapped by the three men, but changed the details of how many guns were pointed at him and how he ended up in the Charger.

Security footage showed that 44 seconds elapsed between the time the Charger was seen going behind a pillar where Hue was parked and leaving. Winteringham said there was no possible way either of the circumstances described by Hue could have occurred within 44 seconds. Hue also brought his backpack with him, which contained all of his belongings, which Winteringham said implies he knew he was going somewhere. Hue also took the time to lock his vehicle before getting into the Charger.

All of this left Winteringham unable to prove the kidnapping charges beyond a reasonable doubt. However, it was clear that Hue’s “kidnapping” had become confinement, leading both Handule and Abdullahi to plead guilty to the lesser charge. The evidence against Njoku did suggest possible involvement, but was not sufficient to prove his involvement beyond a reasonable doubt, leading to his acquittal.

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