Popular true crime podcast on Stephanie Slater case set to return for second series

The podcast which went to number one in New Zealand is back with new details of one of Nottinghamshire’s biggest crime cases
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The podcast, The Kidnapping of Stephanie Slater details the horrific true story of the 25-year-old Birmingham-based estate agent who was abducted at knifepoint in 1992. She was held captive for eight days by Michael Sams, one of the UK’s most notorious kidnappers.

Sams posed as a potential house buyer before going on to keep Stephanie handcuffed, gagged and blindfolded in a box within a wheelie bin. His workshop was located in Newark-Upon-Trent in Nottinghamshire and it was later discovered that Sams had also murdered Julie Dart from Leeds.

Stephanie survived her ordeal after Sams let her go. Podcast producer, Andy Whittaker was a reporter at the time of the case. He was inspired to make the podcast after he felt that the case never left him.

Speaking with Nottingham World, Andy said: “I was one of the few people who were in the media at that time and it encapsulated all of us. We were all fascinated and concerned about what was going to happen to Stephanie. Every day the police were doing briefings and updates which were fed back about what they were learning which wasn’t very much during her captivity.”

“There was huge media interest when she was released but I felt it hadn’t her story been told in as much depth as I thought it could be. I interviewed Stephanie and she was a great talker but I felt there was more that needed to come out.”

Although Andy felt that he knew Stephanie’s story from that time, he was still shocked when it came to working on the podcast as more information came to light. Especially around the effect on her mental health and also, the additional threat posed by Sams who threatened to derail a train.

“When you start to delve into it there are so many things I didn't know as I knew Sams had threatened to derail a train but I didn't realise how much detail he had gone into. The biggest thing was the murder of Julie and the Kidnap of Stephanie but the threat to derail the train during the trial was one of the charges- it wasn’t focused on.”

“I later learned that he had sent an intricate diagram to police and British Rail explaining just how he would derail a high-speed train. The police took it to experts to see if this was serious and if would this actually work. The expert confirmed yes and that it would cause horrendous death and injuries. That is how serious this guy was, he had planned and planned for this.”

The first series of the podcast took its creator by surprise as it went on to be the number one podcast in New Zealand - despite it being a Newark and Birmingham story. The focus of the first series was kept to being about Stephanie with Andy barely naming Sams. For the second series, he decided he wanted to investigate Sams further to see what he could find out about him.

“There were people I hadn’t interviewed for series one whose stories needed to be heard. I deliberately didn’t talk about Michael for series one partly because , the police didn’t know who he was so I wanted to keep people in the same mindset. Also, I wanted it to be about Stephanie and Julie,” he explained.

“What has been amazing is how many people found it fascinating and shared it with their friends. It's been massively popular down under as it was the number-one podcast in New Zealand and third in Australia. That is as far away from where these things happened as you can get.”

He added: “I discovered that Stephanie had been living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and receiving help for it. She would speak very bluntly about what had happened but she would always end on a positive note which led you to believe she was dealing with it well.”

“Stephanie was seriously affected by what happened so I enlisted a trauma expert to listen to all the raw recordings to see what he thought. His conclusion was PTSD and when I spoke to her best friend, she said they hadn’t told anyone before but she was diagnosed. It shows the effect that Michael had on Stephanie went beyond the eight days of her captivity which must have been horrific.”

In the second series, Andy speaks about a book that Stephanie had read years before her attack. The book advised on what to do if you are attacked which was something Stephanie put into action during her ordeal. Dr Miriam Stoppard appeared on the podcast and burst into tears at the thought of her advice helping to save Stepanie's life.

“By the end of it, I was feeling tearful because Miriam couldn’t get over that something she had written so long ago being used to save someone’s life. It was that one bit of information that Stephanie had needed and Miriam had given it to her. She said you write things in books but it's one-sided, you never hear what happens or whether people use it. So she was overcome with emotion over that,” Andy said.

The Kidnapping of Stephanie Slater series two is now available on BBC podcasts, Apple and Spotify.