West Norfolk family kidnapped and beat man and his pregnant partner, court hears

17:01 03 January 2014

Gertrude Frankham, who died on December 4, 2012.

Gertrude Frankham, who died on December 4, 2012.

Members of a West Norfolk family kidnapped and beat a man and his pregnant partner to extract false confessions surrounding the death of their grandmother, a court heard.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Wisbech, where the body of Gertrude Frankham was exhumed.Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Wisbech, where the body of Gertrude Frankham was exhumed.

The man and his partner, who was heavily pregnant at the time, were both kidnapped on separate occasions and violently assaulted, so that the woman eventually made a false confession that her partner had smothered the grandmother with a pillow and had been stealing from her, Norwich Crown Court heard.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said trouble flared after the death of Gertrude Frankham, who died on December 4, 2012.

He said at the time of her death she lived in a house in Walpole St Andrew.

He said: “We are concerned here with violent events, in which a young couple were separately kidnapped, held prisoner and beaten to obtain confessions from them of stealing property belonging to the late Gertrude Frankham.”

He said Mrs Frankham died of natural causes, and this was confirmed after her body was later exhumed, but members of her family got it onto their head that she had been murdered.

Mr Farmer said the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was kidnapped and forced to get into a car and taken to an outbuilding where there was a large number of people from the travelling community.

He said the man was beaten up and accused of stealing items from the grandmother. He was then dropped off, for his partner to collect and was then taken to hospital to be treated for his injuries.

His partner then tried to meet up with members of the Frankham family to make peace , but then she was also beaten up and held against her will.

Mr Farmer said under pressure she made a false confession that her partner had been stealing from the grandmother and had smothered her with a pillow.

She was also blackmailed into handing over £1000 or threatened with further violence.

He said part of her “confession” was filmed and said she had been so terrified at the time she was willing to say anything.

Mr Farmer told the jury there are five defendants who have already admitted their part in what happened.

Other family members who deny any involvement and are on trial are Violet Chilton, 57, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent, Edward Dolan, jnr, 18, of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent: Thomas Chilton, 29, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

Also in the dock are Jason Chilton, 27, of Dades Lane, Wisbech who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent and Vanessa Frankham, 48, of Wisbech Road, Walplole St Andrew, who denies kidnap, blackmail, wounding with intent and robbery

Diane Evans, 18, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, denies one count of false imprisonment and a 17 year old who cannot be named, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

The trial continues.

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