Seven Years for Australian Man Who Kidnapped Boy over $5.5million Gambling Debt2 months ago
An Australian man has been jailed for 7 years for kidnapping a 12-year old child after claiming he had no other option to recover a $5.5million gambling debt he was owed.
55-year old Zhen Jie Zhang apologised to a Queensland court this week for the ordeal suffered by the young boy, stating through an interpreter:
"I want to say I'm deeply sorry. If you feel afraid please forgive me for that; your father was acting terribly [and] owed me a substantial amount of money."
The background to the kidnapping began in 2010 when Zhang and the boy’s father met and gambled together.
The father, however, soon borrowed money from Zhang and ‘owed a substantial amount to casinos’, according to abc.news.au, which eventually led to Zhang ‘extorting the boy’s family’.
This included sending threatening messages, including a text message reading:
"Watch out... wait for pick up the body".
Zhang snatched the boy as he walked home from Somerset College in Mudgeeraba, bundling him into a car and driving across the state border into New South Wales.
Police issued an amber alert and the child was found in the back of a car the following day in Grafton, some 240km from where he was taken. It transpired that the young boy had made three escape attempts, each time being bound further.
Prosecutor Matt Hynes explaining to the court:
"On the first [escape attempt] his ankles were tied; the second, a towel was placed in his mouth; the third, his head was tied to a chair with the rope around his neck."
In defence, Zhang’s lawyer Alastair McDougall told the court: "He became frustrated with the non-repayment of monies," adding that his client needed the money to pay his mother's medical bills and put his own son through flight school.
Judge Katherine McGinness sentenced Zhang to seven years in prison, although he will be eligible for parole in February, 2021, having already spent more than two and half years in custody.
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