Three suspected Burnaby kidnappers who took “extraordinary efforts” to escape police — including one who fell from an 11th floor balcony — have been found not guilty of kidnapping.
Abdulkadir Handule, Abdullah Abdullahi and Obinna Njoku had all been charged with kidnapping in relation to a dramatic incident at a Metrotown apartment building in July 2019.
Tactical officers breached the door of an 11th-floor apartment about 10:20 p.m. on July 4, 2019, to rescue a man they believed had been kidnapped two days earlier, according to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling this month.
Unbeknownst to the suspects, two snipers had been watching them for hours from the rooftop of an apartment building next door, the ruling said.
By the time police entered the suite, however, the suspects had fled through the balcony door.
One of the snipers saw Abdullahi fall from the balcony into a rhododendron bush below and spotted Handule scaling down the outside of the building.
Handule was arrested on a fifth-floor balcony, with a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol at his feet, according to the ruling.
Njoku, meanwhile, managed to jump from the 11th floor balcony to one on the 10th floor.
He then broke a sliding glass door, made his way through the unoccupied suite and ended up on a staircase as the residents of the condo were being evacuated.
“Mr. Njoku attempted to mingle with the occupants,” stated the ruling. “He even picked up a little girl, much to the disapproval of her mother, and carried her down the staircase. He was arrested a few minutes later in the lobby.”
All three were taken into custody and charged with the kidnapping of Arnold Hue.
Prosecutors argued Hue had been taken at gunpoint from an underground parking garage at the Metropolis at Metrotown mall on July 1, 2019 and held for ransom in suite 1103 at 4960 Sanders St. until police found him there two days later.
But defence lawyers argued Hue had gone with them willingly, either to conduct a drug deal at the condo or as part of a fake kidnapping to extort money out of Hue’s criminal associates.
Even the prosecution conceded Hue’s evidence was hard to believe at times, and B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janet Winteringham said she found it “difficult to believe much of what he said.”
She ultimately ruled prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Hue had been kidnapped at the mall but there was enough evidence to prove Handule and Abdullahi had held him in the apartment against his will, so she found those two men guilty of the lesser offence of unlawful confinement.
Njoku, meanwhile, was acquitted of all charges.
Winteringham concluded his involvement had been limited and, at some point, Handule and Abdullahi had turned on him.
Even the fact that he had picked up a little girl in an attempt to evade police did not tip the scales against him, according to Winteringham — but that didn’t mean she accepted his explanation that he had picked her up in an attempt to help her down the stairs.
“Mr. Njoku’s conduct with respect to the little girl was shocking,” she said. “Based on my observations of Mr. Njoku on the video in the lobby and the testimony of the building manager as well as the little girl’s parents, I have no difficulty finding that Mr. Njoku frightened her parents — it was not an act of altruism but was a bold effort by Mr. Njoku to escape detection. That said, I am not satisfied that the evidence of his attempt to evade police tips the balance to found proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled in Vancouver Supreme Court for Handule on Aug. 23.
No date has been set for Abdullahi’s sentencing, but his next court date is scheduled for July 6.