The leader of a gang who kidnapped and tortured a man who they wrongly suspected of stealing £40,000-worth of drugs has been jailed.

Kofi Francis, 23, led a gang who abducted the 22-year-old man at knifepoint in Plumstead in April.

He was wrongly suspected by the group of having stolen £30,000 to £40,000 of crack cocaine and heroin from a drugs safe house in Gilbourne Road.

The gang wanted their drugs back and violently attacked the kidnapped victim with a knife, as he was driven to a rural location in Southfleet.

Once in Southfleet, the victim was beaten, tortured, robbed and stabbed by his captors in agricultural fields after midnight. Whilst the he was being tortured, two other gang members - Daniel Edwards and Daniel Cogger - were visiting an address in London attempting to recover the stolen drugs on instruction of Francis.

The victim's ordeal came to an end through pure good fortune when the Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance helicopter flew over the fields testing its search light ahead of a response to an unrelated crash a mile away.

The gang panicked, and scrambled to get away - allowing the victim to run away into the darkness and get help - all whilst bleeding heavily.

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

Detective Constable Andrew Payne, of the Greenwich gangs unit, said: “It is incomprehensible what the outcome could have been for the victim in this case but for the good fortune of the helicopter passing overhead that allowed him to escape."

Detectives arrested Edwards on April 22 at his home in Plumstead, and located a drugs factory, and a substantial amount of crack cocaine in a safe within the address.

Detectives arrested other members of the gang after communication between them was established, proving they were in contact with each other, placing them at key locations in London and in Kent.

The court heard how, whilst Francis, of Whetstone Road, was remanded in prison for this offence, he recruited an associate, Dillian Ode, and they attempted to pay the victim £12,000 to withdraw his prosecution.

Undercover officers managed to stop the plan before any money was paid.

DC Payne said: "The court have rightly determined that Francis is a danger to the public, and have sentenced him to a significant term of imprisonment.

“The distribution of crack cocaine and heroin fuels violence on the streets of London; the victim was subjected to a horrific ordeal at the direction of Francis, and his co-defendants who have also been brought to justice."

Francis was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday, January 26, to 14 years in jail having earlier been found guilty in November 2017 of conspiracy to kidnap, GBH with intent, robbery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He will also be subject to an extended licence period of two years.

Francis’ sentencing follows the earlier jailing in December 2017 of Daren Davis, 27, of Bostall Hill, Greenwich [eight years], Daniel Edwards, 49, of Gilbourne Road, Greenwich [seven years and six months] and Daniel Cogger, 26, of no fixed abode [six years and eight months] who were all part of the same offence.

Dillian Ode, 23, of Kirtley Road, Lewisham, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on 1 December having been found guilty on Wednesday, 29 November of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.