Blackmail plot: Bid to get £5,000 from Coleen Rooney for photos from her missing mobile - court
COLEEN Rooney was subjected to a £5,000 blackmail plot involving hundreds of personal family photos on her stolen camera, a court heard today.
Jennifer Green, 25, and Steven Malcolm, 42, both from Manchester, are accused of demanding the cash from the celebrity wife of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney.
Both defendants, who deny the charges, were arrested after Coleen Rooney's mobile phone went missing while at a concert at the MEN Arena in Manchester in May 2010.
Green's partner, Lee Platt, has already admitted handling stolen goods and blackmail, the jury at Manchester Crown Court heard today.
Deborah Gould, prosecuting, said: "In May 2010 a camera containing a memory card was stolen.
"It belonged to Coleen Rooney, a well known celebrity who has an equally well known husband, the footballer Wayne Rooney.
"The prosecution case is that these two defendants together with Lee Platt, who is the partner of Jennifer Green, came into possession of the camera and the memory card and then sought by unlawful means to make money out of the situation."
Ms Gould continued: "It would have been obvious to anyone who saw the contents of the memory card who the images on it were of and that they were personal family photographs of the Rooney family.
"Most importantly however, they would have realised, and did, that their contents had a commercial value because of the fact of Coleen and Wayne Rooney's celebrity.
"You may think that for all the benefits such celebrity may bring it also makes people like Coleen and Wayne Rooney very vulnerable.
"The Crown says that the defendants acted as a group or gang, playing different roles in what happened next.
"The gang made contact with Manchester United Football Club and initially tried to extract £1,000 from Coleen Rooney's agent for return of the memory card and the photographs.
"Following some unpleasant publicity about Wayne Rooney, they then decided to up the ante and increased the amount of their demand to £5,000.
"They approached various media outlets including Hello magazine, The Sun and (Daily) Star with a view to selling them, these private stolen images.
"After Hello magazine informed Wayne Rooney's agent, a man called Paul Stretford, of the approach, the police were informed and decided to deploy an undercover police officer who pretended to be Coleen and Wayne Rooney's publicity agent."
Coleen Rooney, who had a son Kai with her husband Wayne two years ago, is not expected to be called to give evidence - as although she is the victim because it was her stolen camera involved, there was no direct contact with her by the defendants.
The jury of seven women and five men heard that the undercover police officer pretended he wanted to buy back the camera and contact was made with the gang, meeting the defendant Malcolm in a Manchester city centre hotel.
"When he arrived for the meeting, Steven Malcolm was in possession of a black folder which contained 11 sheets," Ms Gould said.
"Upon which were printed about 400 thumbnail-sized images which had come from the memory card contained within Coleen Rooney's stolen camera."
Police later found the fingerprints of both Green and her partner Lee Platt on pages within the folder, the jury was told.
The pair, along with Malcolm, were part of the plot to extract money from Coleen Rooney, Ms Gould said.
The case continues.