The faces of three blackmailers who kidnapped woman from a South Shields street

These are the faces of three men convicted of blackmail after demanding a four-figure sum for a terrified woman’s safe return.
From left, Christopher Brown, Kenneth Cook and John Kyle appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.From left, Christopher Brown, Kenneth Cook and John Kyle appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
From left, Christopher Brown, Kenneth Cook and John Kyle appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.


The victim was snatched from a street in South Shields as she walked with her partner, and subjected to a four-hour ordeal by men she did not know.

Newcastle Crown Court, where the men appeared.Newcastle Crown Court, where the men appeared.
Newcastle Crown Court, where the men appeared.

Her captors threatened to cut her throat and send a gruesome image to her boyfriend unless he paid the £2,000 they asked for.

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She was later dumped in Hebburn, five miles from where she was taken, and left with a broken breastbone.


‘One of the worst crimes I’ve ever had to investigate’

Detective Constable Julie Jackson, of Northumbria Police, has praised the victim for her bravery throughout the investigation – and added that she hopes the men’s convictions provide “some kind of closure”.

In 29 years of service, Det Con said the case was “among the most disturbing she has investigated” while on the force.

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She continued: “This was a horrific and despicable crime. It’s hard to comprehend the terror that the victim was subjected to on that night.

“She was a completely innocent member of the public who was minding her own business, walking down the road with her boyfriend.


“I’ve been with the force for almost three decades and this is one of the worst crimes I’ve ever had to investigate. The victim has shown incredibly bravery throughout this investigation, and I sincerely hope that these convictions can give her some kind of closure.

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“This was a complex case which involved a number of detectives, and it reaffirms our commitment to protecting the public and bringing those who threaten the fabric of our communities to justice.”


How the ordeal unfolded

The court heard that the couple visited the One Stop shop on Whiteleas Way, South Shields, on the evening of June 11, 2018. Kyle slammed the door on them as they were trying to leave.

As the victim and her boyfriend later walked towards their home, a black Vauxhall repeatedly drove past the pair and they were confronted by the group.

The man, who gave his girlfriend the shopping bags and urged her to get to safety, was then chased by the gang but managed to get away.

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She was then ordered to make several calls to her partner, and when it connected, one of the men warned they would ‘cut her throat and throw her in the Tyne and send a photo of it’ if he did not pay a £2,000 ransom.

The gang then drove the terrified woman to the banks of the river, where she was attacked by Cook, suffering a broken breastbone.

When the men failed to receive the money they had asked for, they dumped the victim in Hebburn before police managed to locate her.

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In a statement read to the court, the victim said: “I’m terrified to stay in my house alone and I’m also terrified to leave.

“I cry all of the time. I don’t understand why they did this to me – I’ve never hurt anyone.”


The convictions of the three men following trial

Brown, 42, of Grosvenor Crescent, Hebburn, was found guilty of blackmail. He has been granted bail until the next hearing.

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 remanded in custody until sentence, which will happen at a later date.

Kyle, 30, of Ribble Walk, Jarrow, was found guilty at the same trial of kidnap and blackmail. He is also remanded in custody.