1. ITV Report

Funeral of kidnapped estate agent who died from cancer

Today is the funeral of a former estate agent who was kidnapped in the 1990s.

Stephanie Slater died on August 31 this year after a short cancer battle. The 50-year-old's funeral will take place on the Isle of Wight today, where she settled following her release.

At the age of 25, Stephanie made headlines across the world after killer Michael Sams held her at knifepoint when he posed as a prospective buyer at an empty house in Great Barr, Birmingham.

Stephanie Slater died just days after being diagnosed with cancer. Credit: West Midlands Police

Bound and gagged, she was driven more than 100 miles to Sams’ workshop in Newark, Nottinghamshire, while her employers were forced into handing over a ransom of £175,000.

The previous year, he had kidnapped and murdered Julie Dart and is still serving a life sentence in prison.

Stephanie Slater moved to the Isle of Wight to help her move on from her ordeal. Credit: ITV News Central

Ms Slater changed her name to Phoenix Rhiannon in a desperate attempt to shake off her past, but she later told ITV News she had become "proud" of Stephanie Slater and re-adopted her original name.

I ran away from my name, Steph, for a long time. I ran headlong away from it because of everything it was attached to.

I didn't realise I was running so fast that I've actually come back into contact with her again.

This time round, I'm proud of what she's done and I'm proud of what she's survived. I've embraced it again.

– Stephanie Slater

She worked with police forces across the country helping kidnap victims but nightmares about what happened haunted her throughout her life.

Ms Slater helped kidnap victims up and down the country. Credit: ITV News Central

However, our reporter Keith Wilkinson - who worked with her on a documentary about her capture - remembers some of the good times they shared.

One day we took her up in a light aircraft around the Isle of Wight to look at her new home when she moved away from the West Midlands to start a fresh life.

She was full of laughter that day. Stephanie’s life wasn’t all doom and gloom.

She also helped raise awareness of the possible dangers faced by estate agents meeting clients alone.

For her bravery and campaigning work many people owe Stephanie a great debt of gratitude.

– Keith Wilkinson
  • There will be full coverage of Ms Slater's funeral on our programme at 6pm tonight.