A new Channel 5 documentary, The Girl in the Box, explores the case of Stephanie Slater, a young woman who was kidnapped in Birmingham in 1992.

Ms Slater’s kidnapper, Michael Sams, tied her up and took her to a warehouse, before demanding a £175,000 ransom from her employer.

Having collected the ransom, Sams released the 25-year-old, but a tape featuring the culprit’s voice was played on Crimewatch and recognised by an ex-wife.

Here’s what you need to know.

What happened to Stephanie Slater?

Stephanie Slater, then 25, was abducted at knife-point from a Birmingham estate agents where she worked in 1992.

She was kept handcuffed, gagged and blindfolded in a coffin-like box, itself locked inside a wheelie bin in Sams’ workshop in Nottinghamshire for eight days.

Having collected a £175,000 ransom, Sams let her go, only to be ultimately caught after the case was covered on Crimewatch.

Her evidence helped convict him of not only her kidnap, but also the murder of the Leeds teenager, Julie Dart, who was abducted and held in similar circumstances.

In 1995, she published her own account of the kidnapping: Beyond Fear: My Will to Survive.

Speaking around the time of its publication, Ms Slater said: “I wrote the book for women who are in danger and I’m trying to speak out for women who are taken by maniacs like Sams.

“I wanted to speak out, a voice in the wilderness, because nothing seems to be done for women these days, nothing has been done since I was kidnapped.”

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Life after the kidnapping

Slater moved to the Isle of Wight after the trial, where she struggled to rebuild her life, suffering from the psychological effects of her ordeal.

She unexpectedly found a new purpose after being introduced to a police officer, who suggested it would be valuable for trainees to understand her experience.

Ms Slater began holding presentations and seminars about the treatment of victims of crime, which she described as  “the counselling I never had”.

Her friend, Stacey Kettner, told the BBC: “The police loved her. People who have gone through situations like that, they so rarely come back alive. It gave her a sense of purpose, it was a tonic for her.”

Ms Slater sadly passed away from cancer in 2017, aged just 50. 

The Girl In The Box airs begins Tuesday 28 February at 9pm on Channel 5

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