Man hurt in suspected January car arson was subject of 2015 human-trafficking probe, investigators say

A man who almost died in a suspected arson attack on a vehicle in downtown London had been the subject of a human-trafficking probe involving teenage girls, The Free Press has learned.

His alleged attacker, William McDonald, 28, is charged with arson causing bodily harm and aggravated assault after a car parked near Wellington and Dundas streets burst into flames last month, injuring McDonald and the other man. McDonald, of Thamesford, also is charged in an attack on a sex-trade worker at a London hotel one day earlier - writes lfpress.com.

Investigators are exploring whether there are potential links between McDonald’s alleged crimes.

William McDonald

Witnesses recounted seeing two men with their clothing on fire jump out of a burning car at 4:15p.m. on Jan. 17. Officers arrested McDonald at the scene and located the other man in a nearby store. Both were taken to hospital with critical injuries.

Court records identify the other injured man as Sean Leadston, 43, a Londoner with a criminal past.

McDonald and Leadston know each other, police said.

“It wasn’t random,” London police Sgt. Blair Harvey said.

“Those two men had come together there for a reason, at that intersection, in that car, but the exact circumstances as to why they came together remains under investigation.”

Leadston was charged with more than a dozen offences in January 2015 after police alleged his company van was being used to transport teenage girls — plied with alcohol and drugs — to area motels to make money as sex workers.

Leadston, then a married father of three, was charged with procuring a person younger than 18, possessing a weapon and possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Weeks later, he was charged with a dozen additional offences, including trafficking persons younger than 18, living off the avails of prostitution and exercising control and administering drugs for the purpose of illicit sex.

Leadston pleaded guilty in July to possessing a stun gun without a licence and trafficking in crystal meth. He was sentenced to 90 days to be served on weekends, before the Crown withdrew the rest of his charges, noting that some complainants from the case couldn’t be located.

The court heard how police surveillance observed Leadston visiting various London hotels for brief visits. He was later arrested outside an east-end hotel where police found three small dime bags of drugs in his pocket along with some cash. A stun gun was found inside Leadston’s van.

Leadston remained in the hospital in critical condition Thursday, a police spokesperson said.

“He is co-operating with police,” Harvey said, adding the serious injuries to both men have posed a challenge to investigators.

“There’s still a few pieces of this puzzle . . . that we’re trying to fit together.”

Neighbours say there was a break-in at Leadston’s west-end home in the fall, but police would not confirm that.

Nobody answered the door when The Free Press knocked.

McDonald faces charges of sexual assault, attempting to choke to overcome resistance and obtaining sexual services in relation to an attack on sex-trade worker on Jan. 16, though the incident wasn’t reported to police until six days later. A court-ordered publication ban was imposed on the complainant’s identify.

London women’s agencies praised police for alerting them about the attack, saying the notice helps them with safety planning for sex-trade workers.

Following McDonald’s release from custody, police on Monday notified the public about the possible safety risk and included a photo of him.

Read more news of London on our site.

lfpress.com
Manhurt human-traffickingprobe
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Children living in London boroughs with high diesel pollution suffer from stunted lung capacity, putting them at risk of early death, a study has said. Pupils living in areas that failed to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits were at increased risk of lung disease, researchers found. The research studied 2,000 London school children over five years. "We are raising a generation of children reaching adulthood with stunted lungs," researchers said. Academics fro...
Incidents
A private school teacher has been left partially blind after another woman smashed a glass in her face during a night out.  Lisa Bertsch, 30, was at the Be At One bar in Richmond when she was hit in her right eye. The tumbler shattered and left Ms Bertsch, who lives with her boyfriend in Kingston, needing emergency surgery. She said the attack happened when she tried to stop the assailant pouring a cocktail over her friend’s belongings. Ms Bertsch added th...
Society
Discarded syringes have been left in play areas and car parks as a BBC investigation found councils were being called 50 times a day to remove them. Figures obtained by the BBC showed councils handled 18,496 cases in 2017-18, a rise of 7% in two years. A volunteer pricked by a discarded needle has told how he faces a wait for HIV and hepatitis test results. The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "committed to doing more to reduce d...
Society
The German Zeppelin bombing campaign of London during WWI has been brought to the fore again days before the centenary of the war in a film made by schoolchildren. The first ever example of strategic bombing in history - a tactic used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying their morale or economy - was during the First World War Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II initially banned attacks on the capital because of his close connection to the...
Society
London’s busiest train station has recruited a hawk to scare off pigeons following a spate of complaints from angry passengers. Aria, a five-year-old harris hawk, has begun patrolling Waterloostation in a bid to stop people having to “fight" off pigeons while eating. There are 27 food and drink retailers at the Network Rail-managed station, and many customers have complained about pigeons pecking at food and leaving a mess. The birds have been pictured sit...
Society
London City Airport is going to fine airlines for breaching noise limits after a surge in complaints from residents.  The airport, based in the Royal Docks, has launched a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. Bosses revealed the airport had seen a spike in complaints since launching concentrated flight paths in February 2016. The paths were changed after new air traffic control technology was b...
Society
The Crossrail delay will cost Transport for London almost £200 million next year in lost revenue, the Standard has learned. Latest calculations suggest the expected nine-month delay to the completion of the Elizabeth Line, first revealed in August, will cost the cash-strapped body almost £550,000-a-day.  TfL, which has a deficit of around £1bn, has told the London Assembly it will miss out on £170million income from passenger fares and up to £20million in...
Society
Motorists who park in cycle lanes in one of London’s “Mini Holland” boroughs could have their residents’ parking permits revoked, council chiefs warned today. A crackdown on illegal parking has been launched by Waltham Forest council amid growing anger at the way some drivers are blocking the new routes.  They are being introduced under a £30 million initiative to encourage walking and cycling by building Dutch-style segregated routes, including a three-mi...
Society
‘Only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1.30pm in the afternoon,’ says Air India pilot. A senior Air India pilot was grounded after he failed breathalyser tests shortly before a flight from New Delhi to London on Sunday. Arvind Kathpalia, who is responsible for safety at the airline as operations director, denied drinking on the job and said he would contest the results of the alcohol checks. “It was 1.30pm in the afternoon, only a bloody...