Gang kidnapped woman off street and demanded £2,000 ransom in four hour ordeal

A woman was snatched off the streets by a gang of blackmailers who threatened to cut her throat unless her boyfriend paid a £2,000 ransom.

The terrified victim was held captive for four hours by the gang who threatened to throw her  body in the River Tyne and send a gruesome image to her partner.

She was repeatedly ordered to contact her boyfriend by mobile phone so either she or the blackmailers could speak to him, ChronicleLive reported .

A court heard the woman suffered a broken breastbone before she was finally dumped from the car in Hebburn, Tyneside, five miles from where she was taken in South Shields.

Her boyfriend, who helped negotiate her release alongside, 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."

Now Kenneth Cook, John Kyle and Christopher Brown are facing lengthy prison sentences for offences including kidnap, blackmail and GBH with intent.

Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told the court the couple's ordeal started when they went to a shop in South Shields, last June.

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****** 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.

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.

Kenneth Cook, 26, of 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.

John Kyle, 30, of 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.

Christopher Brown, 42, of 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.

Cook and Kyle have been remanded in custody while Brown has been released on bail.

They will all be sentenced at a later date.

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