ABDUCTION, EXTORTION: 'This is the underbelly of Ipswich'

A WOMAN appeared in an Ipswich court to describe a terrifying ordeal of being abducted, assaulted, tied up with tape and thrown in a locked shipping container overnight.

The trial of Van Dat Vu, who has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, extortion and the unlawful use of vehicles, began in Ipswich District Court on Monday.

In his opening statement crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis said Vu was there "every step of the way" in a scheme which involved kidnapping Ha Thi Pham and her husband Van Tien Hoang in January 2017 and keeping them locked in a shipping container to extort them for money.

Mr Wallis told the 14-person jury that on the morning on January 15, police officers at the end of a night shift happened upon the dishevelled and frightened married couple wandering a Richlands street after escaping the confines of a shipping container on a Freeman Rd property owned by Vu.

It is alleged the day before they were both kidnapped in separate incidents by two men and kept captive in the container, with Vu believed to have been involved in both abductions.

"This is a criminal endeavour that crossed regional bounds (of Ipswich and Brisbane)," Mr Wallis said.

"This is the underbelly of Ipswich... many may know exists."

The court heard the plan was hatched as Ms Pham owed about $850,000 to another Vietnamese woman, My Le after borrowing the sum in 2015 or 2016.

Her husband had gotten a bank loan of $250,000 in an effort to help pay off the debt and she paid up to $5000 in cash each week to Ms Le at her home in Inala.

Ms Pham, speaking through an interpretor in the witness stand, told the court on January 14 two years ago her usual weekly visit to hand over the money took a terrifying turn.

At 11am that day she had received a call from Ms Lee, who told her to come over.

She said after placing the money on a table and, within a minute or two of entering the house, two masked men knocked her to the ground, kicked her and taped her hands and mouth.

Ms Pham, who had to stop for a few seconds to compose herself, said the two men then put her in a bag and carried her out to her own car.

She was then driven to a location, taken out of the red Toyota Corolla and placed in what seemed to be a trolley or cart before being thrown in the shipping container with the doors held locked with strands of wire.

Both men were speaking English, which Ms Pham couldn't understand but realised they were Vietnamese.

"I knew they are Vietnamese, I can tell the difference (in accents)," she said.

She said she recognised one of the voices as that belonging to Vu, having met him at a Vietnamese Darra grocery store.

Ms Pham's witness testimony continues today and the trial is expected to carry on for more than a week.



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