Technical problem halts trial of seven facing kidnap and assault charges

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A technical problem has today (Tuesday, January 7) halted the trial of seven people accused of kidnapping and assaulting a couple.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court were sent home at lunchtime as an engineer was not able to fix a problem with a video link until tomorrow.

This morning’s proceedings never got underway due to the technical problem.

This is the third day of the trial of seven people who are accused of kidnapping, assaulting and blackmailing a couple they believed was responsible for the death of Walpole St Andrew grandmother, Gertrude Frankham.

Tests which were carried out after Mrs Frankham’s body was exhumed from Wisbech cemetery last year showed she died of natural causes.

The jury has heard that the couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were separately kidnapped, taken to an outbuilding and beaten over her death.

In sending home the jury for the day, the recorder, Mr Stephen Holt said attempts had been made to solve the problem during the morning but nothing had come of it.

He told the jury: “The next stage is for an engineer to come out, because of the way these things are working, no engineer is present in this area.

“The chance of the engineer being here this afternoon are zero. We are pressing to get the engineer here as soon as possible.”

Judge Holt added that the court had been told that an engineer could be there tomorrow at 1pm but was pressing hard for an earlier time.

The seven standing trial, who deny all of the charges against them, include Vanessa Frankham, 48, of Wisbech Road, Walpole St Andrew, who is accused of kidnap, blackmail, false imprisonment and robbery.

Violet Chilton, 57, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, is charged with blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

Edward Dolan, 18, of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole, is charged with kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

The same allegations have been brought against Thomas Chilton, 29 and Jason Chilton, 27, of Dades Lane, Wisbech.

Meanwhile, Diane Evans, 18, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, is charged with false imprisonment, while a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged with kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.