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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"The Trial" Continues - Latest Updates

BBC - May 31, 2006
Man denies threatening QPR boss

A security consultant has denied hiring a gang of thugs to terrorise a Queens Park Rangers director at gunpoint.

Andy Baker, 40, is one of six men accused of threatening Gianni Paladini, just before a home match with Sheffield United in August 2005.

He told Blackfriars Crown Court he had been invited to the game as a guest and was trying to tout for the club's lucrative stewarding contract.

All six deny conspiracy to blackmail, false imprisonment and gun possession.

Charges have been dropped against a seventh man - Barry Powell, 34, from west London.

The prosecution claim a group of nightclub doormen, hired by Mr Baker, threatened Mr Paladini at gunpoint and forced him to sign documents detailing his resignation from the club and the handover of his shares.

Box stormed

The court has heard that at half time, armed police stormed one of the executive boxes, arrested several men and found £7,000 in Mr Baker's hooded top, which the prosecution say was payment for the "heavies".

But questioned by his counsel Anthony Arlidge QC, Mr Baker denied ever making threats to Mr Paladini.

He told the court the £7,000 was partly wages for his doormen and the rest was "to grease some wheels at QPR to help us get the [stewarding] contract".

Mr Baker said he had been invited to the game along with co-defendants David Davenport, Aaron Lacey, John McFarlane and Michael Reynolds by the brother of co-defendant David Morris, a QPR shareholder.

He said he met Mr Morris in his executive box at Loftus Road shortly before the game, and they were taken on a guided tour.

Mr Baker said they then went into the chairman's suite, where Mr Paladini's daughter Kate, grabbed his arm and screamed at him: "Why did you hold a gun at my father's head?"

He told the court he laughed it off as a joke and then he and his friends returned to the box to watch the first half of the match.

Mr Baker said he was horrified when armed police entered the box.

Cash 'forgotten'

Asked why he had not mentioned the stewarding contract when he was interviewed by police, Mr Baker said his solicitor had advised him to reply "no comment" to all questions.

Prosecutor David Williams QC asked him why he had also not mentioned the £7,000 was meant as wages for doormen at his clubs.

"I must have forgotten," said Mr Baker.

Mr Williams suggested it was "a bit of a coincidence" that another group of men, not including Mr Baker or his friends, had been at QPR on the day and threatened Mr Paladini at gunpoint.

Mr Baker replied: "Yes".

Mr Baker, 40, from Somerset, is charged alongside Mr Morris, 50, John McFarlane, 39, from west London, Aaron Lacey, 36, from Watford, David Davenport, 38, from Buckinghamshire and Michael Reynolds, 45, from north London.
The trial continues.

From Tracy Stent/QPR 1st - Summary of the Trial thus Far
3 weeks into the trial - An overview


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