Kidnapper 'hugged and held hands with victim': Diary tells of man's growing affection for woman he imprisoned

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL SAMS yesterday appeared to choke back tears as a court was told of his growing affection for Stephanie Slater, the woman he kidnapped and held blindfolded and gagged for seven days.

In a diary discovered by police, he claimed to have bathed Miss Slater's feet, held her hands and then hugged her before returning her, still blindfolded, to the coffin-style box where she was held, Nottingham Crown Court was told.

Sams repeatedly wiped his eyes as a letter he sent to the media after her release, describing his feelings of guilt and how he cried at night, was read out.

Sams, 51, a toolmaker from Sutton on Trent, Nottinghamshire, admits kidnapping and imprisoning Miss Slater, now 26, in January last year as well as demanding pounds 175,000 from Shipways, her employer. He denies the murder and kidnap of Julie Dart, 18, from Leeds, and also making two pounds 140,000 ransom demands to Leeds police; he also denies a pounds 200,000 blackmail attempt on British Rail.

The court was told that Sams had told police those crimes were committed by 'a mate'.

Richard Wakeley QC, for the prosecution, said that diary fragments discovered by police at Sams's Newark workshop appeared to have been written after Miss Slater's release and were meant to be discovered. In extracts read by Mr Wakeley, Sams wrote that the idea of a kidnap and ransom came to him 'quite by accident' when he discovered an old railway line while walking his dog.

He discussed the idea with another person. Later, Sams visited that person, who he said had no option but to confide and trust in him. It was then that Sams claimed to learn of his attempt to blackmail British Rail and use his - Sams's - plans to collect the money. 'His disclosure that he had killed the Leeds girl Julie Dart and how and why he had done it did not bother me one little bit,' he wrote.

In one extract, Sams described how he bathed and massaged Miss Slater's feet with hot water, 'jokingly' asking her for permission: 'I didn't want assault adding to the list.'

Afterwards, he sat holding her hands. 'We exchanged the usual joke, where I asked if she would stop an extra week. Stephanie always replied with, 'I think I will have to decline the offer, thanks'.'

Sams said that as he put her back in the box, he put his hands on her shoulders and promised she would not be harmed. She suddenly hugged him. 'When she put her arms down, she went back in the box without either of us speaking. I could tell she was choked. I certainly could have spoken without crying.' He added: 'I'm afraid I was relaxing too much. I may say something she could identify me with.'

In the letter, Sams described how Miss Slater fell into his arms when he said the ransom had been collected. 'Fortunately, she had her blindfold on and could not see my tears for her streaming down my face.'

He said he was 'ashamed, upset and thoroughly disgusted' at his treatment of her.

Mr Wakeley said that after Sams's arrest, a computer expert had retrieved a file from Sams's word-processor containing what appeared to be a planned anonymous letter to police should they have identified a car similar to his which had been used in Julie Dart's abduction.

It described how he had picked up Miss Dart, who was working as a prostitute, and had had sex with her in the back of his car before parting on friendly terms. Sams said that the file had been written and deleted by his friend.

The trial continues today.