Celine Dookhran trial: Accused 'panicked' during interview

Celine Dookhran Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Celine Dookhran was found dead in an empty house in Kingston, south-west London

A man accused of helping a builder kidnap two women lied to police because he "panicked", a court has heard.

Vincent Tappu, 28, is charged with helping Mujahid Arshid kidnap Celine Dookhran, whose body was found in a freezer.

He has also denied aiding the kidnap of the second woman.

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Tappu told the Old Bailey he had no involvement and Mr Arshid had "implicated" him in the crime.

Mr Arshid, 33, is accused of taking the two women to an empty house in Kingston, south-west London, on 19 July 2017.

He is charged with the rape and murder of his niece Ms Dookhran, and the rape and attempted murder of the second woman, who cannot be named.

Mr Tappu admitted lying in early police interviews as to his whereabouts on the day in question.

'Net is tightening'

Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said the defendant had been "forced" into changing his initial account only after telephone evidence exposed his lies

Mr Emlyn Jones told Mr Tappu such evidence "proves you were that second kidnapper".

He admitted telling lies during his police interviews because he "was worried" and "panicked" - but said he eventually told the truth.

Mr Tappu told jurors he went to meet his co-defendant in the area of the alleged kidnap to collect money he was owed for labouring work.

He said he had gone home without seeing Mr Arshid after waiting in his car for about two hours.

He told jurors he "smoked a joint," used his iPad, and "nodded off" for a while.

Mr Tappu, from Acton, said the only conversations he had with Mr Arshid around the time in question related to building work, his health, and a proposed plan to grow cannabis.

He denied being known as Jay - which prosecutors said was his nickname, heard by the surviving woman during the kidnap.

Prosecutor Mr Emlyn Jones told Mr Tappu he had "been roped into committing an appallingly serious criminal offence" and "now the net is tightening around you".

Mr Tappu said he was being "implicated" by his co-accused.

"I'm nothing like Mujahid," he added.

Image copyright UNKNOWN
Image caption Mujahid Arshid (left) and Vincent Tappu are charged with kidnapping Ms Dookhran and the second woman

Mr Tappu denies kidnap, conspiracy to falsely imprison, and possession of a firearm with intent.

Mr Arshid, of no fixed address, denies all charges. The trial continues.

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