A woman has been given a suspended jail sentence for trying to blackmail a Premier League footballer who jumped out of a hotel window in his underwear after being caught in bed with her.
Natalie Wood, 28, met the high-profile player on social media but claimed she decided to expose him as a “love rat” after discovering he was in a relationship with another woman.
Wood previously admitted conspiring to blackmail the footballer with three men, who were cleared of the charge after a three-week trial in October. Her plea to that charge was dropped following the jury’s verdict and on Friday she admitted an alternative charge of attempting to blackmail the star.
Judge Martin Picton jailed Wood for 14 months at Bristol crown court but suspended the sentence for 12 months owing to exceptional circumstances.
He told Wood: “Blackmail is always a very wicked crime and has the power to do great harm to others but I have no doubt that whatever your thoughts about it, you were subjected to significant manipulation.
“You have been deeply foolish and allowed the attraction of celebrity to put you in the position where you have made some horrible mistakes in your life.”
The court heard Wood, who is from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, has since written a letter of apology to the footballer. Peter Asteris, representing Wood, said: “Miss Wood has been something of a victim herself.” He said his client had been stalked online, with abusive messages sent to her and her family.
During the trial the prosecution alleged a plan was hatched between Wood, Tyrone Coleman, a former contestant on the television programme Take Me Out, his brother Nathan and a friend, Prince Rowe, to film her with the footballer and blackmail him by threatening to sell a “kiss and tell” story to a tabloid.
The jury was told that Nathan Coleman and Rowe burst in on Wood and the footballer as they were in a hotel room bed and used a phone to film the couple.
The sportsman, who has lifelong anonymity, fled by jumping from the window in his underwear, ran down a fire escape and took shelter in a nearby restaurant before calling the police.
Jurors were told the player received a message from Wood threatening to expose him to the media if he did not respond within 24 hours.
The Coleman brothers and Rowe were acquitted of conspiracy to blackmail. Rowe, 38, from Birmingham, was convicted of two counts of theft, relating to a designer tracksuit worth £1,000 and a £23,000 Rolex watch the footballer left in the hotel room. He was jailed for 16 months for theft.
The judge told him: “It remains the case that you and the others set him up and did so with careful planning and some degree of determination.”