Gambler Who Kidnapped Son of Debtor Over $4 Million Loan Says He Had ‘No Other Option’

Posted on: November 10, 2020, 02:59h. 

Last updated on: November 10, 2020, 04:52h.

A kidnapper who snatched a 12-year-old boy off the street in a bid to recoup an AU$5.5 million ($4 million USD) gambling debt from the boy’s father apologized to his victim as he was handed a seven-year prison Tuesday.

Kidnapper Zhen Jie “Kenny” Zhang arrives in Southport District Court in Queensland, on Australia’s Gold Coast Tuesday. (Image: Noosa News)

Australia’s ABC reports that Zhen Jie “Kenny” Zhang, 55, told the boy he was “deeply sorry” for the ordeal he subjected him to on May 11-12, 2018 when he bundled him into his Jeep outside his home on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Zhang kept the boy prisoner for 16 hours, during which time a mask was tied onto his face. After he made several attempts to escape, a towel was stuffed into his mouth and his head was tied to a car seat.

‘Acting Terribly’

Prosecutors said the boy was only given water twice and allowed to urinate once during his period of captivity. Photographs of the boy in this state, described by prosecutors as “disturbing,” were shown to the court.

A text was sent to his parents that read: “Watch out… wait for pick up the body.”

The boy was found by police in the back of the car 150 miles away from where he had been abducted after a tip from a member of the public.

“If you feel afraid please forgive me for that; your father was acting terribly [and] owed me a substantial amount of money,” the kidnapper told the boy in court through a Mandarin interpreter. “I felt I had no other option.”

I brought you into the car without your permission. During the following hours, I did not intend to do any malicious thing to you,” he added.

Earlier, the court had heard how Zhang, a former soldier in the Chinese army, had met the boy’s father in 2010 and the two had become gambling buddies. But things quickly soured after Zhang lent him the money, and he began harassing the family to get it back.

‘Just Like Friends’

Defense barrister Alastair McDougall said Zhang had become “desperate” to recover the money because he needed to pay for his mother’s medical expenses. His client had no criminal history and was of otherwise good character, McDougall added.

In a victim impact statement, the boy’s mother said her son was no longer happy-go-lucky. He was now a “sad, frightened, and miserable” child who hid under the table whenever dark cars went past.

“We got along very well, just like good friends. I didn’t expect that it would be such a serious consequence,” said Zhang in his statement. “This is all my own fault. This is the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned my whole life.”