When one Premier League player, whose name is being protected by the authorities, walked into Natalie Wood’s hotel room last year and began to undress, he must’ve believed he was only in for another night of fun and sex with the woman for whom he’d been cheating on his partner. Instead, before the pair got down to business, two men who, unbeknownst to the player, had been in cahoots with Wood burst into the room in an effort to snap a compromising photo that they could use to blackmail the player. Rather than sticking around to find out what was going on after the intrusion, the player, wearing nothing but his boxers, scrambled over to the room’s window, jumped out of it, and scuttled down the fire escape and into a nearby restaurant, where the staff recognized him and led him to safety.
That is the story currently being heard in England’s Bristol Crown Court, where Wood and three men—Tyrone Coleman, Nathan Coleman, and Prince Rowe—are being charged with conspiracy to blackmail, per the Telegraph.
According to the prosecution’s case, it all started back in 2017 when the player reached out to Wood on social media. From there, the two struck up an affair. On three occasions, the player wired Wood money to pay for a hotel. Wood would book a room under her own name and then provide the room’s number to the player, who would meet her there.
At some point during the relationship, Wood discussed the arrangement with Tyrone Coleman, a friend of hers. According to Wood, who has pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, Tyrone then introduced her to his brother, Nathan Coleman, and Prince Rowe, the latter of whom Wood contends was the blackmail plot’s mastermind. Wood told the court, “I had been used as bait because of the person I knew and they saw a way to get money.”
On the fateful day of Wood’s and the player’s third meetup, the player told the court via a video that he suspected something was amiss that night. “She seemed really nervous,” he said. “I had a funny feeling that something was wrong.”
As he sat there on the hotel bed, down to his underwear after having already removed his designer tracksuit and Rolex watch, Rowe and Nathan Coleman used the key Wood had left them and walked into the room. The player panicked. “It happened so quickly,” he said. “I just saw a window to my right.” He continued:
“I managed to get out of the window without thinking of how high up it was. I thought - I’m in a room and two guys walked in and I’m in a bad situation. I jumped out of the window and I managed to get hold of the staircase.”
After climbing down the fire escape, the fleeing player ducked into a restaurant. The employees there recognized him and took him to the back, where they gave him clothes and a place to wait for the police to arrive.
Moments after escaping the hotel room, the player texted the partner he’d been cheating on, instructing her to lock the house’s doors because he’d just been robbed. At 10:20 p.m. that same night, Wood texted the player and told him that he’d been at the “wrong place at the wrong time,” but that he had better cooperate with her demands, or else. Her text to him read:
“Obviously from your reaction you knew you was in the wrong. I don’t really want to expose you to the media but if you don’t respond within 24 hours then you leave me no choice.”
Rather than succumb to the threats, the player notified the police, who were able to thwart the scheme.
As mentioned above, Wood has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to blackmail. The Coleman brothers and Rowe are also being charged with conspiracy, though they have maintained their innocence. A fourth man, Ras Robinson, is being charged with handling stolen goods with respect to the player’s tracksuit and watch. He also has pleaded not guilty. The trial is ongoing.