Saturday 24 February 2018

Court hears of Rooney's phone theft blackmail

Dean Gray in Manchester

Coleen Rooney was subjected to a £5,000 (€5,900) blackmail plot involving hundreds of personal family photos on her stolen camera, a court heard yesterday.

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 Ms Rooney's mobile phone went missing while at a concert in Manchester in May 2010.

Ms Green's partner, Lee Platt, has already admitted handling stolen goods and blackmail, the jury at Manchester Crown Court heard yesterday.

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, Wayne Rooney.

"The prosecution case is that these two defendants together with Lee Platt, who is the partner of Ms 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.

Commercial

"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.

"The gang made contact with Manchester United Football Club and initially tried to extract £1,000 (€1,182) from Ms Rooney's agent for return of the memory card and 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," Ms Gould said.

"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."

Police later found the fingerprints of both Ms Green and her partner Mr Platt on pages within a folder containing printed images from the camera, the jury was told.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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