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University Student's Ordeal

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

Gang kidnapped student, 21, in a 22-hour ordeal


By Mia Feloy


A' Level student Mia Feloy presents an account of her visit to the public gallery at the Royal Courts of Justice in July, 2022. There Mia witnessed the culmination of a criminal trial, that began at Leeds Crown Court, of a gang accused of a disturbing abduction of a student in central Leeds.

Picture: The Royal Courts of Justice

In October 2019, a university student, who remains unnamed for privacy reasons, was kidnapped on a night out. He was tortured by a criminal gang who forced him to hand over his life savings, the Royal Courts of Justice heard.


The court was told the victim moved to Leeds to study just a month before his abduction in the early hours of October 17th, 2019.


After becoming separated from his friends at around 3am the student was lured into a vehicle of what he thought to be his Uber home. Instead he was abducted by three men, including Zakariya Osman and Harris Saqib.


What followed can only be described as a traumatic and horrifying experience for the young adult. Initially, they forced him to hand over his bank card and pin number, but this quickly escalated to more severe and dramatic events. The assailants stubbed cigarettes on the victim’s body, force-fed him tablets and even threatened to rape him, potentially intending to murder the university student.


During the 22-hour ordeal, the student was forced to call his bank to demand the transfer of £10,000 from his accounts into theirs. According to the Leeds Crown Court the pair warned their victim they would murder him unless he met their demands.


Following the demands of the assailants, the 21-year-old made attempts to withdraw money from a cash machine. However, his PIN number failed to work leading to the victim being punched repeatedly.


The attacks became increasingly more sadistic, with the victim’s recollection of the incident becoming increasingly hazy as the day developed and as his consumption of tablets, vodka and cannabis quickly raised.


 

What occurred during the ordeal?


Picture Gallery: Zakariya Osman; Leeds Crown Court and Harris Saqib


Once inside the car the student was threatened with a knife and told he was “getting robbed”.


The men ordered him to ring his bank and transfer around £10,000 from his savings account, current account, and ISA. However, only a total of £4,810 was transferred to the defendants’ accounts, the court heard. The bank stopped further sums being transferred into Saqib’s wife's account and Osman’s girlfriend’s account.


Prosecuting barrister Carmel Pearson said: “Because of the large amounts of money he was asked many questions by people at the bank, and it was a slow process”. The student was “nervous that the bank would sense the tension in his voice through the telephone. The whole time he was attacked (by the assailants) and forced to persuade the bank of the legitimacy of his transfers”.


The victim later described how Osman, nicknamed ‘Django’, was the “craziest” of them and responsible for most of the violence. He continued to say how both Osman and Saqib threatened to find him if he reported the kidnapping as they knew where he lived.


Throughout the ordeal Osman told the victim he would “take this to an M”, a phrase which the victim understood to mean he was going to be murdered.


As the kidnapping neared its end the 22-year-old was allowed to leave the car, without any money or his mobile phone, at 1am the following morning, almost 24 hours later.


Fortunately, he was dropped off in Liversedge where a pub landlady helped him after seeing that he was dazed, injured, and confused. Later, the student received hospital treatment for burns and bruises to his face.


However, the robbery and kidnapping of the 22-year-old left the individual permanently scarred mentally, with the prosecutor saying that “he had to leave university and Leeds despite attempting to carry on as normal” and “found the stress and pressure of being in Leeds and his studies overwhelming”.


 

Osman’s violent robberies in Huddersfield and Bradford


Zakariya Osman, one of the assailants, has a violent and criminal past, pleading guilty to two further offences of robbery.


One of the robberies involved a violent attack on a man, who he stabbed five times in the stomach as he brutally robbed him of cash in Huddersfield town centre on February 11, 2019. The victim of the attack threw himself over the gates of the police station to raise the alarm and was given aid following the attack


Furthermore, on July 9, 2019, a robbery took place in Bradford when Osman threatened his victim in a car. Osman told the man: “I’m going to shank you right here if you do not give me everything you have got”. He then punched him in the head and stabbed the man three times.


 

Inside the Courtroom


Although the trial originally began at Leeds Crown Court upon review of each attacker’s actions in this horrific ordeal, it was decided that Osman’s case was deemed the most severe so was later transferred to the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The final verdict and sentence was decided in July 2022.


Despite it being Osman’s final day in court the courtroom was surprisingly empty. No jury was in attendance. Instead the judges, solicitors, public gallery, and a few of Osman’s family members were the only ones present to witness his fate being decided.


Osman watched and listened attentively as he joined the courtroom through a videocall.


Soon after, the defendant and prosecutor made a few brief final statements, the judges recounted each distressing event that took place during the kidnapping across a 20-paragraph length report. The true pain and trauma the victim faced can never fully be described through words.


The Final Verdict


As the hearing headed towards the end Judge Bayliss concluded: “All robberies are serious but the robbery and kidnap of (the student) is a chilling crime” and “it was committed against a young man whose life has been changed by your actions”.


He added the student’s life had “changed to the extent that his university degree course has had to be abandoned, changed to the extent he will never be able to walk the streets with any confidence anymore”.


Bayliss concluded as a consequence of Osman’s violent and cruel behaviour what the victim went through "was unimaginable” causing him “serious physical and psychological harm".


Judge Bayliss decided to give Osman a 30-year sentence while Saqib received a shorter sentence of 20 years.


 

Mia Feloy


Mia Feloy is a student at St Andrew's Catholic Secondary School, Leatherhead. Mia will start her Year 13 studies in September 2022. She is interested in a career in the law, possibly specialising in Criminal legal practice.

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