A kidnap gang who snatched a woman off the street and threatened to kill her have been jailed. The woman’s boyfriend was then ordered to pay £2,000 by the blackmailers who said they would cut her throat if he didn’t pay up. The terrifying ordeal took place in South Shields last June and lasted for almost four hours. During that time, the strangers told her they would kill her, throw her in the River Tyne and send a picture to her partner.
The woman suffered a broken breastbone before she was eventually dumped more than five miles away. Newcastle Crown Court was told that the woman was ordered to repeatedly contact her boyfriend so the kidnappers could speak to him. Her boyfriend, who called police, said: ‘It was like something out of the movies, not real life, so far-fetched.’
Kenneth Cook, 26, of Bensham Bank, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to blackmail and was found guilty by a jury of kidnap and causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He has been jailed for 15 years with a four year extended licence period. John Kyle, 30, of Ribble Walk, Jarrow, was found guilty at the same trial of kidnap and blackmail. He has been jailed for ten years with a four year extended licence period. Christopher Brown, 42, of Grosvenor Crescent, Hebburn, was found guilty of blackmail and has been jailed for four years.
Prosecutor Richard Herrmann said the ordeal started when the couple were on their way home and one of the men thought there had been a ‘perceived slight’ by them towards him. After they were confronted, the boyfriend was threatened with a knife before he was chased and escaped. As the woman fled, she was caught by the gang who forced her in to the back seat of her car. She was then driven to the banks of the river, ordered to get out of the car and attacked by Cook who kicked her in the chest and broke her sternum.
The gang then took her to a house and demanded to know how they could track down her boyfriend and get the ransom money. When they failed, she was dumped in Hebburn and located by police. Judge Amanda Rippon said Cook and Kyle were given extended sentences to protect the public because they were ‘dangerous’ and ‘posed a significant risk of causing serious harm.’ She said Brown did not pose a danger.