Coleen Rooney's blackmailers jailed over stolen camera plot
Published 31/01/2012 | 05:00
Two men who tried to blackmail Coleen Rooney were yesterday jailed for a total of three years and eight months.
The sum of £5,000 (€5,900) was demanded from the wife of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney in return for her Samsung digital camera, which contained more than 400 photos on the memory card.
The photos showed the couple's son Kai, family holidays, their home and wider family, which were all touted for sale to newspapers and magazines.
Appearing at Manchester Crown Court, Lee Platt (29) was jailed for two years after admitting blackmail and receiving stolen goods at an earlier hearing. His co-defendant, Steven Malcolm (42), was jailed for 20 months for the same offences.
Platt got his hands on the memory stick of Mrs Rooney's camera, which went missing while she was watching a pop concert at the MEN Arena in Manchester on May 24, 2010.
Platt's girlfriend, Jennifer Green (26), was sentenced to a 12-month community order and told to perform 60 hours of unpaid work after admitting assisting in the retention of stolen goods.
The court was told Mrs Rooney, who made a victim impact statement last week, said it was "upsetting " to receive a request for money during a period of "unwanted media activity" for her husband.
"What was particularly distressing was that the family pictures were of no relevance to anyone else other than her and her family," she said. "And it was said that the pictures showed her husband in some state which was untrue and caused her distress."
The blackmailers initially rang Manchester United before they attempted to extract £1,000 from Mrs Rooney's agent Paul Stretford.
But after "unpleasant publicity" about Mr Rooney's private life, they upped the demand to £5,000.
They also approached 'Hello!' magazine, 'The Sun' and 'Daily Star' with a view to selling them.
However, after the approach to Mr Stretford the police were called in and a sting operation was mounted. An undercover police officer contacted the plotters and a meeting agreed to do the deal was set up in September 2010.
Sentencing, the judge said: "Blackmail is a vile and despicable offence, preying on the vulnerable and causing great distress. The courts must do what can be done to deter such offences."