Woman kidnapped on South Shields street as blackmailers demanded £2,000 ransom from boyfriend

A terrified woman was kidnapped off the street by blackmailers who demanded £2,000 ransom from her boyfriend to stop them cutting her throat.

By Karon Kelly
Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 4:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 4:35 pm
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

The victim was held captive for four hours by strangers who warned they would attack her, throw her in the River Tyne and send a gruesome picture to her partner afterwards. During the shocking ordeal the woman, who was taken from a street in South Shields, suffered a broken breastbone in the violence she endured before being dumped from the car she was picked up in, more than five miles away, in Hebburn. Newcastle Crown Court heard while the woman was held hostage, she was repeatedly ordered to contact her boyfriend by mobile phone so either she or the kidnappers could speak to him. Her boyfriend, who drafted in the police to help negotiate her release, told the court: "It was like something out of the movies, not real life, so far-fetched. I don't think the police realised how serious it was at first." 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 refused to answer when questioned by detectives, did not give evidence during the trial and did not serve a statement of his defence. He has been remanded in custody. John Kyle, 30, of Ribble Walk, Jarrow, was found guilty at the same trial of kidnap and blackmail. He refused to answer police questioning and claimed in a defence statement he was not present during the offences but did not give evidence during the trial. He is also remanded in custody. Christopher Brown, 42, of Grosvenor Crescent, Hebburn, was found guilty of blackmail. He told police he had little recollection of what he did or who he was with that night due to intoxication and did not give evidence at the trial. He has been given bail until the next hearing. They will all be sentenced at a later date. Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told the court the couple's ordeal started when they went to the One Stop shop in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, last June and one of the men "slammed" the door as he left the store and then got into a car. As the couple walked towards their home, a black Vauxhall Vectra repeatedly drove past them before they were confronted by the group and the boyfriend was threatened with a knife. Mr Herrmann said the man gave his girlfriend their shopping bags and told her to get to safety before he was chased by the men and managed to get away. As the woman made her way home alone, she encountered the vehicle again and was ordered to "get in the f***ing car" before being forced into the back seat. Mr Herrmann said "unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the ordeal for her" and said she was ordered to make a call to her boyfriend on her mobile. The court heard once the call connected, one of the men took the woman's phone from her and demanded £2,000 from the boyfriend and said they would "cut her throat then throw her in the Tyne and send a photo of it to him". The woman was then driven to the banks of the river, where she was ordered to get out, grabbed by the pony tail and attacked by Cook, who kicked her in the chest. The victim, who "didn't have a clue where she was" was then taken to a house, where the men demanded to know how they could track down her boyfriend and get the ransom money from him. The court heard when the men failed to get the ransom they asked for, the woman was dumped in Hebburn and the police managed to locate her, near Elmfield Road.