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Sect member 'thwarted kidnapper'

Daily Telegraph 9 March 1995

By JOHN STEELE, Courts Correspondent

A MAN tried to abduct a young woman from the headquarters of the Church of Scientology in Britain because he believed she had been hypnotised into staying in the sect, a court heard yesterday.

Stephen Cooper, 27 admitted to police that he went to the sect's base at Saint Hill Castle in East Grinstead, East Sussex, with the intention of abducting Miss Kathleen Wilson, 23, Lewes Crown Court heard.

The jury heard the abduction attempt was thwarted by a Scientologist who suffered a minor knife wound in the struggle with Cooper and another man. Cooper told police, according to Mr Richard Cherrill, prosecuting, that Miss Wilson, who was 21 at the time, 'had no mind of her own and had been the subject of hypnosis'.

He said he had been contacted by Miss Wilson's mother, who had expressed concern that her daughter was off to the US for further training'

Cooper of Saltburn, Cleveland, denies attempted kidnap and affray. Mr Cherriil said kidnap involved trying to remove someone by force and without lawful excuse. He told the jury to beware of letting anything they had heard or read about the Church of Scientology distract them.

He added: 'This lady was there because she wanted to be there and the defendant attempted against her will to remove her.'

Miss Wilson told the jury: 'I liked being there. I liked doing the work.'

The jury heard she had been a member of the sect for about 14 months by November 1992, living in the village of West Hoathley, three miles from its base.

On the night of Nov 6 1992 she was walking in the 55-acre grounds of the castle with two other Scientologists when, she said, a man ran up and grabbed her.

One of her friends, Mr Austin Lenniston, also held her and tried to fight the man off Cooper, the jury heard, gave himself up two weeks later.

The trial was adjourned until today.

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