Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 15:50 UK

Guerin suspect jailed for kidnap

Patrick Holland
It will be Holland's fourth lengthy spell behind bars over the last 40 years

A man police suspect of killing Irish journalist Veronica Guerin has been jailed for planning a 10m "honey trap" plot to kidnap a businessman.

Patrick Holland, 68, and others aimed to place a secretary at Nasir Zahid's firm and persuade her to ask him on a date before grabbing him.

But she was unable to get a job at his firm, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

Holland was found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap and jailed for eight years. Four more people have also been jailed.

Kahn Coombs, 24, of no fixed address and the gang's bait for Mr Zahid, was jailed for four years.

Gerrard Booth, 47, of Co Down, was jailed for seven years and John McDonnell, 45, of Lewisham, south-east London, was jailed for eight years.

They were all found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap.

Khan Coombs, Gerrard Booth, Simon Young and John McDonnell
The gang were arrested by armed police

Simon Young, 38, of Welling, Kent, was found guilty of possessing a firearms and ammunition , and conspiracy to kidnap. He was jailed for a total of 11 years.

Christopher Kerr, prosecuting, told the court that while Holland was in charge of the "plan in the UK", McDonnell and Booth, convicted drug traffickers who met in prison, were to "carry out the snatch physically". Young was effectively a go-between, he said.

But the plan, devised in 2007, collapsed when Coombs was told there were no vacancies at Mr Zahid's import and export firm in Chiswick, London.

Before they could come up with an alternative plan the gang was arrested by armed police.

Dishonest and villainous

Passing sentence Judge Henry Blacksell, QC, said all those in the dock were "thoroughly dishonest and villainous people".

Turning to Holland, he said: "You are a man who has been associated with serious crime over a long period of time and have served long periods of imprisonment.

"You are reaching the end of your life and it may be that you end it in prison, I know not."

It will be his fourth lengthy spell behind bars during a criminal career stretching back decades.


During Holland's recent two-month trial, the jury saw lengthy surveillance evidence of him meeting his alleged paymaster, Patrick Van Cantfort, a wealthy European businessman. He is currently being sought by police.

They heard he ordered the kidnapping apparently believing Mr Zahid had double-crossed him over an alleged 10m VAT fraud.

Crime reporter Ms Guerin was killed by a motorcycle pillion passenger in the Irish Republic on June 26, 1996.

The following year, Holland was arrested and jailed for possession of 10kgs (22lbs) of cannabis resin.

His trial heard the Irish police officer who arrested him believed he killed the 37-year-old.

Five guilty of 10m kidnap plot
28 Mar 08 |  London

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific