A London gang who kidnapped and tortured a man they believed had stolen £40,000 (€45,000) of drugs were caught when an Air Ambulance accidentally spotted them brutalising him in a field in rural Kent.

Three men from South East London have been jailed for a total of more than 21 years in connection with the kidnap. The leader is yet to be sentenced.

Just before midnight on 19 April, the group kidnapped a 22-year-old man at knifepoint in Plumstead – they wrongly believed he had stolen a significant amount of crack cocaine and heroin from a safehouse in the area.

Some of them drove him to a remote field outside Southfleet where they beat, tortured and stabbed him in a bid to get their drugs back, while two members simultaneously visited an address in London where they believed the stash might be.

The victim had a stroke of fortune when a Kent Air Ambulance crew flew overhead as they were testing their searchlight in the night sky. The gang panicked and fled the scene, allowing the victim to run away into the darkness.

He was treated in hospital for serious stab wounds to the hands and is yet to fully recover from his injuries.

Metropolitan Police detectives arrested one of the conspirators, Daniel Edwards, 49, at his home on Gilbourne Road three days later. They also found a large amount of crack cocaine at the address.

Analysis of communication data then enabled police to pinpoint the other parties involved in the kidnap attempt.

Kent field drugs kidnap plot
The isolated spot where the gang tortured the victim in the moonlight Metropolitan Police

"The sentences passed today are reflective of the seriousness and consequences of involvement in Class A drugs," said Andrew Payne from the Greenwich Gangs Unit.

"Drug supply ruins lives, whether it is those that use it, or the aftermath of the violence committed by those who participate in its activity."

While in prison for the offence, the group's ringleader Kofi Francis, 23, of Whetstone Road, co-opted a woman on the outside to offer the victim £12,000 to drop his prosecution.

However, undercover officers detected that plot and charged both of them with perverting the course of justice.

Ringleader Kofi Francis, 23, Whetstone Road, Greenwich, was found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap, grievous bodily harm, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He will be sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on 26 January 2018.

Daren Davis, 27, of Bostall Hill, Greenwich, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, having been found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap.

Dillian Ode
Dillian Ode Metropolitan Police

Daniel Edwards, 49, of Gilbourne Road, Greenwich, was sentenced to seven years and six months imprisonment having been found guilty on 29 November of conspiracy to kidnap and being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine.

Daniel Cogger, 26, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to six years and eight months imprisonment having been found guilty of conspiracy to kidnap.

Dillian Ode, 23, of Kirtley Road, Lewisham, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment having been found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.