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Kidnap Bid Is Denied

Evening Gazette, Middlesbrough, 13 March 1995

 A religious sect member was the target of a bizarre kidnap bid, a court

 Cleveland shop manager Steven Cooper tried to snatch a young woman from
the sect headquarters after fears she had been brainwashed, a court heard.

 After he was arrested, he told police the woman had been hypnotised and no
longer had a mind of her own. Cooper, 27, of Lune Street, Saltburn, denies
attempted kidnap and affray.


 Church of Scientology member Kathleen Wilson said she was walking in the
cult's Sussex castle HQ grounds when Cooper and two other people pounced.

 Miss Wilson, now 23, originally from Cleveland but now living in Sussex, 
had been a member of the group for about 14 months at the time of the
alleged kidnap attempt.

 Prosecutor Richard Cherrill told the court Cooper said he felt Miss Wilson
no longer had a mind of her own, believing her a prisoner.

 Cooper said he had been contacted by her mother who feared her daughter was
going to the US for further training.

 Miss Wilson told the hearing at Lewes Crown Court yesterday: "When I first
got into the Church of Scientology I found it was good. I was there because
I liked it."

 Mr. Cherrill said Cooper and two others tried to persuade Miss Wilson to
leave but she cut short their meeting. Three ours later, she was jumped on
by a group who shouted "get her" and "grab her".

 Fellow Scientologist Austin Lenniston came to her aid, grabbing her around
to stop her from being dragged away, said Mr. Cherill.

 The would-be kidnappers threatened cult members with a knife and a
Rottweiler but Miss Wilson was eventually bundled onto a Scientology bus, 
Mr. Cherrill added.


 Mr. Lenniston was cut with the knife in the fracas at the cult's Saint Hill
Castle HQ in East Grinstead.

 Mr. Cherrill said: "Miss Wilson was there because she wanted to be there
and the defendant attempted, against her will, to remove her."

 * Proceeding.

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