A man who was allegedly kidnapped and assaulted by members of a West Norfolk family has given evidence in the first few days of their trial.
Seven people, most from the Frankham family, are on trial at Norwich Crown Court, charged with kidnapping and wounding the man and his heavily pregnant partner in April last year.
The 41-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spoke to the court via video link on Monday. He told the jury that he got to know several members of the Frankham family and befriended Gertrude Frankham, who lived in Walpole St Andrew.
After Mrs Frankham died in December 2012, the family came to believe she had been murdered.
John Farmer, prosecuting, said to the man: “Did you have anything to do with her death?”
“Definitely not,” the victim said. “One hundred per cent.”
The man explained he had got into a disagreement with Vanessa Frankham, one of the charged, over money she believed he owed her. He said a member of the family came to his house on the evening of April 17 and told him the family wanted to see him.
On the opening day of proceedings on Friday, Mr Farmer told the jury the man was forced to get into a car and taken to an outbuilding where there was a large number of people from the travelling community.
He was beaten up and accused of stealing items from Mrs Frankham. His partner, who also cannot be named, was then allowed to collect him and take him to hospital. When she tried to meet with the family to make peace, she was also beaten up and held against her will.
Mr Farmer said the female victim made a false confession and told the family her partner had been stealing and had smothered Mrs Frankham with a pillow. The woman was also blackmailed into giving them £1,000 or threatened with further violence.
Five defendants in the case have already admitted their involvement.
The other family members who deny any involvement and are on trial are Violet Chilton (57), of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; Edward Dolan Jnr (18), of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; Thomas Chilton (29), of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; Jason Chilton (27), of Dades Lane, Wisbech who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent; and Vanessa Frankham (48), of Wisbech Road, Walplole St Andrew, who denies kidnap, blackmail, wounding with intent and robbery
Diane Evans (18), of Cherry Road, Wisbech, denies one count of false imprisonment and a 17-year-old man who cannot be named, denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.
The trial continues.
This week the two alleged victims were giving evidence and next week a number of police officers are scheduled to appear.
The case is expected to last at least three weeks.