A man managed to get himself jailed for 16 weeks and miss the birth of his child, after lying to his pregnant girlfriend that he had been kidnapped, just so he could get drunk with his buddies.
This kidnapping prank gone wrong took place in January, when Leigh Ford, a 45-year-old man from Blackpool, England, made several frantic phone calls to his pregnant partner Zoe Doyle, telling her that he had been kidnapped and that he was going to be tortured unless she transferred all the money she had into the kidnappers’ bank account. At first, the woman thought he was kidding, but he sounded really scared, and there were other men shouting in the background, threatening to cut off Leigh’s legs, and pour hot water on him. So she complied, but she also called the police.
“At first, I just thought he was winding me up,” 35-year-old Zoe said. “But he sounded really scared. The phone went dead and then it rang again. I could hear men shouting in the background, threatening to break Leigh’s legs and throw boiling water over him. They were threatening to mutilate him, cut off his genitals, and I was panic-stricken.”
Leigh kept screaming and begging his girlfriend, who was 35 weeks pregnant at the time, to comply with the kidnappers' demands, so she transferred all the money she had – £80 – in the provided bank account, before alerting the authorities. A helicopter and a trained hostage negotiator were called in for what sounded like a complicated situation, but no one called again until next morning, when Leigh himself came home like nothing had ever happened.
Police were waiting for him, and after asking him a few questions, they arrested him for wasting police time and resources. At first, the 45-year-old kept lying about what had really happened, but after being shown video evidence of himself and two friends leaving a shop and carrying booze, he confessed to making up the whole kidnapping thing.
“He appeared in court the following day and I was stunned when I heard the truth. I just couldn’t believe that Leigh would do that. He had wasted all those police resources. He had put me through hell,” Zoe said. “The silly thing was, it was his own money. He could have spent it if he had wanted. It just didn’t make sense.”
Leigh Ford apologized to his girlfriend fro putting her through such an ordeal, claiming that his friends had put him up to it, and because they had all had a few drinks, he just couldn’t think straight. Despite being so furious she could strangle him, Zoe eventually forgave her prankster partner, as she is convinced he really loves her.
Unfortunately for Ford, the judge wasn’t that forgiving. For wasting around £30,000 worth of police resources during the unnecessary 24h rescue operation, Leigh Ford was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail. The sentence went into effect in February and caused the prankster to miss the birth of his child.
“This is a bizarre case… a prank which went totally wrong,” said Ford’s defense lawyer. “The whole kidnap story had been made up by Ford to get his hands on a small amount of money. He had no idea what the police reaction was going to be. He was stupid and it was out-of-character.”