‘Extremely dangerous’ Stevenage man jailed after hiding in boot of estranged wife’s car and attempting to kidnap her

Colin French from Stevenage has been jailed for four years after attempting to kidnap his estranged

Colin French from Stevenage has been jailed for four years after attempting to kidnap his estranged wife. - Credit: Archant

A man living in Stevenage and described by police as ‘extremely dangerous’ has been jailed for four years after he attempted to kidnap his estranged wife.

Colin French, who was staying in Scarborough Avenue, was described by a Cambridge Crown Court judge as he was sentenced on Friday as ‘posing a significant risk to future partners in times of relationship breakdown’, calling his actions ‘premeditated and sinister’ and warning they could have ‘fatal consequences’.

The 42-year-old was arrested on November 5 last year after he hid in the back of his ex-wife’s car and tried to kidnap her.

A few weeks before, his then wife, Sharon, made the decision to leave him after she worked out he had blocked a number of people in her mobile phone.

The 34-year-old told officers how this was the last straw after she was subjected to emotional, physical and psychological abuse ever since marrying French in 2014.

On November 4, 2015, Sharon was at work in Hardwick, Cambridgeshire, and went to her car to leave for the day. When she approached, she thought it was odd that the lights did not flash and the wing mirrors did not move, as they usually did.

She noticed the car was a little steamed up, but felt something was not right when she thought she could smell her ex-husband’s aftershave. Thinking he was in the back seat behind her, she turned round to find a picnic blanket, which was usually in the boot, lying in the foot well.

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This concerned her so she got out of the car, left the engine running and opened her boot – where she found French curled up inside.

Sharon ran back towards her office, screaming for help after French jumped out of the car and began chasing her.

She told officers how she was frightened for her life, thinking French was going to take her away and kill her. She fell to the ground and he grabbed her, before dragging her away towards the part of the car park that was in darkness – with something which looked like a knife in his hand.

Thankfully a colleague heard Sharon’s screams and came to her aid, pushing French off of her, before he ran off and left in Sharon’s car.

French remained on the run until officers tracked him down in a pub car park in Grantchester, Cambs, the following morning.

He was arrested and later charged with attempted kidnap, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and possessing a bladed article in a public place.

He was also charged with burglary after officers found evidence of him purchasing an angle grinder, masking tape, cable ties, a hacksaw and a drill over November 3 and 4, and used some of the items to break into Sharon’s home, stealing her spare set of car keys and wedding rings before making his way to her place of work.

French pleaded guilty to three of the four charges, but denied attempting to kidnap his ex-wife. He claimed all he wanted to do was speak to her and get answers as to why their relationship had ended.

The court heard how he claimed he wanted to speak with Sharon, and planned to do this by putting the middle arm rest down in the car while she was driving and he was in the boot.

French was found guilty of attempted kidnapping following a three-day trial at Cambridge Crown Court in May, and returned there for sentencing on Friday.

He was given a four-year jail term for attempted kidnap with a three-year extended licence, six months for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and 12 months in prison each for possessing a bladed article in a public place and burglary – all to run concurrently. He has also been disqualified from driving for five years and his car has been confiscated.

The offences were committed while French was on a life licence following a period of almost six years in prison back in 2006 after he set fire to an ex-partner’s home after their relationship ended.

As he has committed an offence while on life-licence, he will not be released from prison until a parole board deems him to no longer be a threat to the public.

Det Con Paul Atkinson, from Cambridgeshire Police’s Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit, said: “French is an extremely dangerous individual who will spend a considerable amount of time behind bars.

“Sharon has shown great bravery in not only contacting police, but walking away from what was years of abuse – this is not an easy thing to do, and unfortunately many people, both men and women, continue to suffer in silence.

“I would encourage anyone who is in an abusive relationship to speak with someone, it doesn’t have to be the police – telling just one person could be the first step to getting yourself out of the abusive situation.”

If you have been subject to domestic abuse, you can call the free national helpline on 0808 2000 247. Anyone affected is also encouraged to contact police on 101.