Kidnapper 'was trying for perfect crime': Man admits abducting estate agent but denies killing teenager

MICHAEL SAMS, a Nottinghamshire toolmaker, yesterday admitted kidnapping the Birmingham estate agent Stephanie Slater and keeping her for a week bound, gagged and blindfolded inside a coffin-style box.

But Sams, 51, denied murdering Julie Dart, 18, of Leeds, who the prosecution say was beaten and strangled when his meticulous plot to commit the perfect crime went wrong.

The case was a 'chilling and remarkable story' which would often horrify them, Richard Wakely, QC, told the jury on the opening day of the trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

Sams, he alleged, had set himself the project of kidnap and blackmail, but was 'so arrogant, so amoral' that he treated it as a game of 'catch-me-if- you-can'. He wanted to prove to himself that kidnap and blackmail could be successfully committed.

Miss Dart, who was murdered 10 days after her kidnap in July 1991, had been 'the innocent victim of his campaign to commit what he regarded as the perfect crime'. But he was not deterred and sought another victim.

Sams, of Sutton on Trent, near Newark, admits kidnapping and imprisoning Miss Slater in January last year, and attempting to blackmail Shipways estate agents, her employers, for pounds 175,000. He denies the murder and kidnap of Miss Dart and making two attempts to blackmail Leeds police, each for pounds 140,000; he also denies a pounds 200,000 blackmail attempt on British Rail.

The court was told that Miss Dart was working as a prostitute in Leeds in July 1991 when Sams - who had planned her kidnap 'down to the last detail' - lured her into his car. He tied her up and took her back to his Newark workshop, where he forced her into a wooden box. The next day, ransom notes were sent.

Miss Dart suffered from claustrophobia and Mr Wakely suggested that she had tried to escape and that Sams had killed her because she had seen him undisguised. Her body was found in a field near Grantham.

The court was told that Sams wrote further letters to Leeds police saying he would kidnap another prostitute unless he received the money.

The Crown had established that he had planned to guide police to a series of telephone boxes, before directing them to a bridge on the M1 where they would leave the money. The plan went wrong, however, when a police officer was unable to unhook one of the telephones.

In October 1991, Sams switched his attention to British Rail, Mr Wakely alleged, and demanded pounds 200,000 to stop him derailing a train, describing how he would do this in convincing detail. But a planned ransom drop using a telephone box at a railway station failed when a BR employee failed to use the correct password.

In January last year, Sams, posing as a prospective purchaser and with his features disguised, met Miss Slater at an empty house in north Birmingham. As she was showing him around the house, he pulled out a knife and forced her, bound and blindfolded, into his car. He then drove back to his workshop in Newark, stopping en route to telephone a ransom demand to her employers.

Mr Wakely said that Miss Slater experienced 'real terror and horror'. She was blindfolded and gagged and kept confined inside a coffin-like box placed inside an upended wheely-bin. Sams told her that if she moved she risked either being electrocuted or crushed to death by boulders suspended above her.

Mr Wakely said that Miss Slater displayed 'remarkable courage and heroism'. 'Stephanie was desperately cold and terrified. She thought she was going to die, but she realised that her life was in his hands and her only chance of survival lay in doing exactly what he said.' During the next seven days, she was only allowed out of the box to relieve herself or to eat. But Mr Wakely said she built up his trust, and established a rapport, making it difficult for him to kill her.' It worked because he was flattered that she deliberately showed how dependent she was on him,' Mr Wakely said.

The jury was told Sams made a series of ransom demands to Shipways and eventually arranged for Kevin Watts, the branch manager, to deliver the money. He was made to follow a complicated trail across the Pennines before arriving at a bridge above a disused railway, where he left the money on a tray on the parapet.

Mr Wakely said that despite the resources of the police, Sams was able to get the money by standing underneath the bridge and pulling a rope attached to the tray. The night was foggy and police had no idea that there was a railway line below.

The trial, which is expected to last eight weeks, continues today.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn