Three blackmailers have been jailed for a total of 29 years after a woman was kidnapped as she walked with her partner in South Shields.
In June 2018, after a chance meeting a the One Stop Shop on Whiteleas Way, the couple were followed by the group in the street. The captors then bundled the female victim in the back of a car and threatened to cut her throat and send images to her boyfriend unless he paid them a £2,000 ransom fee.
The victim – who suffered a broken breastbone as a result of the violence used against her – was later dumped from the car in Hebburn, five miles from where she was taken.
Her partner added: “I feel guilty that I couldn’t stop the males doing what they did. I was totally helpless.
“When I was talking to them on the phone and heard she was in the boot, I thought she was going to be killed.
“Since the incident, I have been on a heightened state of alert. I’ve been constantly watching people around me and always sit where I can look at the door. I’m a nervous wreck.”
Kenneth Cook, John Kyle and Christopher Brown were all convicted for their roles following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court in May. On August 30, the trio each received custodial sentences.
Detective Constable Julie Jackson, who has worked for Northumbria Police for almost 30 years, said it was one of the worst crimes she's ever investigated.
Cook, 26, of Bensham Bank, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to blackmail and was also convicted by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and kidnap. He was jailed for 15 years with a four-year extended licence period.
Kyle, 30, of Ribble Walk, Jarrow, denied kidnap and blackmail but was found guilty following a trial. He was jailed for 10 years with a four-year extended licence period.
Brown, 42, of Grosvenor Crescent, Hebburn, was found guilty of blackmail and was jailed for four years.