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It's Over: Ex-flatmate Cleared of Kidnap Bid

Evening Gazette, Middlesbrough, 15 March 1995

 Saltburn man Stephen Cooper today told of his nightmare two years waiting
to be cleard of trying to kidnap a former flat-mate from a cult church.

 And he said: "I'm so relieved it's all over."

 Mr. Cooper, 27, confessed trying to snatch Kathleen Wilson, originally
from Boosbeck, from the Church of Scientology's Sussex headquarters.


 But in his defence he said it was a bid to rescue her as the cult had
brainwashed her.

 Yesterday a jury at Lewes Crown Court cleared Cooper of Lune Street of
attempted kidnap and affray.

 Today he told the Gazette the result felt like "an enormous weight being
lifted off me."

 "When they said not guilty I was just on cloud nine."


 "But this case shows for people concerned about such cults that the law
can be on your side - and that's very heartening."

 On the down side, Stephen said the past two [sic] had been "pure hell" 
for him and his fiancee Lorna. The case has even delayed plans for their

 But members of the church, including Miss Wilson, slammed the verdict as
"an insult".

 Miss Wilson, 23, who attended every day of the week long trial, said after
the case: "I am really angry because they have put me on trial.

 "I feel insulted by the verdict. They are saying I am brainwashed but I
have a mind of my own."

 During the trial Miss Wilson had an emotional reunion with her mother, who
she had not seen since the kidnap bid more than two years ago.

 Miss Wilson claimed she had been afraid to visit her mother in Boosbeck in
case she was the victim of a second kidnap attempt.

 Margaret Wilson, 63, said: "The cult has altered her mind. It is
heartbreaking to think I may never see her again.


 "I think the cult is evil."

 During the trial the court heard how Scientologists work at the Sussex
headquarters and recruits undergo counselling called "auditing" and reveal
their innermost secrets.

 Margaret Rees, church spokeswoman, said: "This is an outrage. The whole
point that Kathleen was the victim was lost."

 [Photo: "Kathleen Wilson and her mum Margaret share a tender moment 
         outside the court.
          The two were reunited at the trial of Stephen Cooper, who has
         been cleared of trying to kidnap Kathleen from a Scientology

 [Photo: "It's such a relief; Stephen Cooper, who has been cleared of
         trying to kidnap his former flat mate.
          He admitted trying to snatch Kathleen Wilson from a cult
         church, but said he was trying to rescue her.
          'I am on cloud nine' he said after the trial.]

 [Photo: "Pensive: Kathleen Wilson, pictured during the trial of her
         former flat-mate, Stephen Cooper."]

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