Trial begins for accused kidnappers

Frank Guenther said there was no negotiating with the trio who allegedly kidnapped him on Feb. 28, 2009.

Frank Guenther said there was no negotiating with the trio who allegedly kidnapped him on Feb. 28, 2009.

“I was going to say negotiating, but it was more like pleading with him that this wasn’t necessary,” said Guenther while on the witness stand Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton.

Three Oliver residents — Andrew Miller, Nicolette Miller and Leonard Thompson — are facing charges of kidnapping, unlawful confinement or imprisonment and assault causing bodily harm. It is alleged they forced Guenther into their vehicle, drove him from Oliver to Pyramid Park near Summerland, told him to strip and when another car arrived with an unknown person, he was beaten up.

Crown counsel Catherine Crockett told the jury Guenther eventually swam out to chest level in Okanagan Lake where he stayed until he thought his assailants left the area and then ran out onto the highway where he received help from a passerby.

Guenther told the court he was addicted to crack, which led to him selling cocaine in order to support his habit. He admitted he fell behind in paying his drug suppliers because his purchasers could not pay him.

Guenther explained this led to an encounter with his supplier where he had to explain his situation, but believed it had been worked out.

Meanwhile, in the summer of 2008 while lending out his truck, an above-ground pool that was in the back was stolen. Guenther said he found it on Thompson’s property and explained that it had not been for sale and whoever gave it to him was in the wrong. He testified Nicolette Miller and Thompson agreed to give it back to him, but said they paid $100 for it and felt it was unfair they would be out that money.

Then on Feb. 28, 2009 while in a back alley behind the Royal Bank in Oliver waiting to make a drug deal, Guenther testified he was pushed to the ground from behind and taken by force into a vehicle.

He said while in the car Nicolette Miller said “they had tricked me.” Guenther said he was sitting in the back seat between Thompson and Nicolette while her son Andrew drove and his girlfriend was sitting in the front. They took Guenther to Thompson’s ranch, south of Vaseux Lake, and put him in a truck and began driving north on Highway 97. While in the vehicles, Guenther said he was punched repeatedly by both Nicolette and Thompson. He said conversation touched on the topics of him falling behind on his drug debt and the anger surrounding the above-ground pool.

“Nicki confirmed that it was going to be the worst night of my life,” said Guenther. “They said when you fall behind these are things that happened, and he (Thompson) said he was hired to bring me to someone and I had blown it and this is what happens.”

Guenther said he tried to explain the situation with his drug supplier had been taken care of already, but that was met with more blows thrown to his head and made his assailants angry. Guenther said they would comment how they tried to rectify the relationship over the above-ground pool and how “they wouldn’t be so hard on me if I would have tried to work it out with Lenny.”

The trial, which is expected to continue until April 19, opened on Thursday with remarks from Crown counsel and Guenther taking the witness stand.