Two men jailed over Rooney plot
Monday 30 January 2012
Two men who tried to blackmail Coleen Rooney have been jailed for a total of three years and eight months.
The sum of £5,000 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 and 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 M.E.N. 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.
Deborah Gould, prosecuting, said Coleen Rooney made a victim impact statement last week.
"She indicates that she would use her camera to take personal photographs. Photographs not intended to reach the media, purely private photographs.
"She realised when she left the concert she no longer had the camera and it was reported stolen," said Miss Gould.
She added Mrs Rooney 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 continued. "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 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 mounted. An undercover police officer contacted the plotters and a meeting agreed to do the deal was set up in September 2010.
Malcolm - a handyman at his co-defendants' furniture business - turned up at the Marriott Hotel in Manchester and handed over a folder of the snaps along with the camera memory card expecting the £5,000 payment - but was promptly arrested.
Police later found the fingerprints of both Green and Platt on pages within the folder.
But Green was "further down the chain" and the prosecution accepted she did not get involved or have any knowledge the photos were going to be used to demand money from Mrs Rooney.
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