A MAN was beaten and bundled into a vehicle by a masked gang in a supermarket car park as horrified shoppers watched on.

A second man was chased but evaded the group by seeking refuge inside of the Tesco on Hill Street, Blackburn, while the ordeal unfolded outside.

The victim was then taken to a house in Whitebirk before the men who had taken him were tracked down on the M62 in vehicles that contained a crowbar, knife sharpener, masking tape, bin liners and £2,000.

Their victim was never seen again – though he did later make contact with the police to say he had safely returned home to Lithuania.

Luksys Liudikas, Gratas Mitkus, and Mantas Viktus were originally charged with kidnap but pleaded guilty to affray the week before they were due to stand trial at Preston Crown Court.

Prosecuting the case Rachael Faux said that at around 12.20pm on March 5, several 999 calls were made reporting that a group of men wearing face coverings had forced another man into a car and driven away.

Ms Faux said: “Some had seen the incident start with a blue Skoda with the three defendants aboard arriving in the car park and parking a short distance away from another burgundy Skoda.

“The defendants got out of the blue car and walked towards the two males from the burgundy Skoda, one of the two males from the burgundy car ran at pace away from the three defendants to seek refuge in the store and waited and watched what unfolded in front of him in the car park.

“A second male from the burgundy Skoda was chased and caught near to the trolley shelter by one of the defendants and was seen being held over a railing which separated the upper car park from the lower car park by a six foot drop the other side of the railing.

“He was pulled, punched and taken to the floor by one of the defendants. The other two defendants returned from their failed chase for the first man to join in with the kicking, kneeing and punching the victim while he was on the floor.”

The victim was then dragged by the gang into the burgundy Skoda where he was pushed onto the back seat sandwiched between two of the defendants.

Ms Faux continued: “These events were witnessed by seven members of the public who have made statements and three members of Tesco staff. They all recall significant force being used throughout the incident in order to bundle the victim into the car.

“They describe him as looking terrified and describe being very frightened themselves by what they witnessed.”

The man who had retreated into the supermarket was spoken to by a member of the staff, who he tried to dissuade from calling the police.

Shortly after the three defendants and their victim were captured on CCTV walking shoulder to shoulder into a house on Whitebirk Road, where Mr Kaluina could be seen to be forced inside the address.

Telephone data recovered during the police investigation shows that the defendants had travelled to Blackburn from West Yorkshire via Scotland and St Helens before the incident and remained in the town until shortly after 6pm.

Around an hour later they were stopped on the M62 and arrested.

The men were interviewed several times over the coming days, with Mitkus saying at one point that he and the other men had gone to Tesco when they met a friend ‘by chance’. Believing it was his birthday they put on balaclavas and bundled him into the car before driving away as ‘a joke’.

Ms Faux went on to tell the court that by March 23, short of three weeks later, legal representatives of the second victim, who had hid inside the shop, informed police that he had been to a police station in Manchester to confirm that he was safe and well.

She added that on April 6, the main victim also contacted the police to say he was in Lithuania, saying: “The police confirmed with the Lithuanian embassy in London that he had travelled back on emergency documentation on March 17 and declared his passport lost and applied for such paperwork to be issued.”

None of the men had been known to the police in England prior to this offence but both Vitkus and Mitkus had previous convictions in Lithuania while Liudvikus is wanted in Finland for matters of dishonestly and is the subject of a European arrest warrant.

Jailing them, the Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham said that the planning in the case had been extensive and that the ‘distress caused was considerable.”

Luksys Liudikas, 25, of no fixed address and Mantas Viktus, 26, of Holland Street, Hull were jailed for 15 months while Gratas Mitkus, 25, of no fixed address was jailed for 17 months.