Notes paid to kidnapper are traceable

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The Independent Online
MORE than half the pounds 40,000 ransom paid for Elizabeth Kerr, a bank manager's kidnapped wife, was in traceable new pounds 20 notes, detectives said yesterday.

The kidnapper gave Derek Kerr - who agreed to face press cameras yesterday for the first time since his wife was abducted on Friday - just minutes to assemble the cash at the Barclay's Bank branch in Northenden Road, Sale, Greater Manchester.

Cheshire police said yesterday that pounds 20,000 of the money was in pounds 20 notes from the series numbered 847001 to 847901, with another pounds 2,000 from the series numbered 849001 to 849100. The rest was in used notes.

Mr Kerr, 37, did not answer questions at a news conference at Wilmslow police station but read out the same prepared statement that he released through the police on Sunday. He added: 'Thanks go to friends, relatives and colleagues from myself and my wife for all the messages of goodwill. They are very much appreciated.'

Mrs Kerr, 37, who also works for the bank, was recovering at home in Holmes Chapel. During her ordeal she was bound and gagged by a bogus policeman and driven around in the boot of a car for more than four hours.

Detective Superintendent David Holt, head of Cheshire's eastern serious crime squad, said: 'Mrs Kerr is a little better. She is now beginning to sleep a little better but she still feels very distressed.'

Mr Holt said there was a tremendous public response to appeals for help in tracing the kidnapper, described as up to 6ft 6in tall, athletically built, ginger haired and with freckles.

'We have had telephone calls from as far south as the south coast and as far north as Edinburgh and central Scotland. They are all very helpful,' he said.

Police believed the kidnapper used a Tasman blue metallic Ford Orion Ghia, not more than two years old, he said.

'The motor vehicle must have been sold, hired or loaned to the offender, so I would ask anyone who can give us any information on that vehicle to get in touch,' Mr Holt said.

Police are also keen to speak to the manufacturer of the false number plate, J763 BYG, that the kidnapper used on the car.

The kidnapper was face-to-face with Mrs Kerr, Mr Holt said, but was more careful to make sure that Mr Kerr did not see his face when he collected the ransom. 'It is a possibility - no more than that - that he may have been able to identify him,' he said. Mrs Kerr was shown a police uniform and realised that it differed significantly from the uniform the kidnapper was wearing when he called at her home and lured her into his car by saying Mr Kerr had been in a road accident. The kidnapper's tunic had more silver buttons, and had no numbers or names on it.

Mr Holt confirmed that when Mr Kerr went to his car to drive to a rendezvous with the kidnapper he found a photograph left on the windscreen. But the picture was so indistinct that it was impossible to say what it showed and it was still being examined. Mrs Kerr, who was tied up, was dumped in a copse near the village of Over Alderley, near her home.

Half an hour later, she managed to free her feet and, with her hands still bound, made her way over fields to a farm where she was helped by the owner.

(Photographs omitted)