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'Eagerness of Rooney blackmailer'

Coleen Rooney's alleged blackmailer waited "in anticipation" as £5,000 was counted out in a hotel bar - seconds before being arrested in a police sting, a court has heard.

Steven Malcolm, 42, was eager to get his hands on the money, it was alleged, after handing over a black folder and camera memory card to an undercover police officer, Manchester Crown Court heard. The items contained more than 400 personal photos of Mrs Rooney, her husband Wayne, son Kai and wider family.

The wife of the Manchester United and England striker had her Samsung digital camera stolen while watching a show in a VIP box at the MEN arena on May 24 last year.

Malcolm and Jennifer Green, 25, are on trial accused of blackmail and handling stolen goods after photos from the camera memory card were touted for cash to newspapers and magazines. The defendants, along with Green's partner Lee Platt, are also accused of being in on the plot after Manchester United were called and £5,000 demanded for return of the photos.

But the police were called in and an undercover officer told a court that, after a series of mobile phone calls between the parties, a meeting was arranged to do the deal - with officers ready to swoop. The officer, known only as Pc James, posed as a business representative of the Rooneys and Manchester United, willing to hand over the £5,000 for the photos.

On September 10 last year, he arrived at the bar of the Marriott Hotel in Manchester with a second undercover policeman and waited until, at 3.17pm, Steven Malcolm walked into the hotel "with purpose" and approached the undercover officer. "He placed a black lever-arch folder on the table and a 4GB Sony memory stick," the witness told the jury.

The officer put the memory stick, or card, into his laptop, which showed the hundreds of photos of the Rooney family were on there. The folder contained 11 pages of thumbnail photos of the Rooneys taken from the memory stick. Pc James said: "My colleague produced a quantity of money, which was £5,000. He started counting it."

The officer told the court he moved seats and used the laptop to shield what was going on because "we were counting money in public, a large amount of money". Malcolm, at this point, "sat forward, watching the money being counted in anticipation", the witness said.

Iain Johnstone, defending Malcolm, suggested the defendant did not know much about the deal and was only following orders from his "boss" - Lee Platt. He suggested Malcolm had never told the officer in an earlier telephone call the photos contained one with Wayne Rooney "pissed or stoned" and on all-fours.

Green and Malcolm, both from Manchester, deny handling stolen goods and blackmail. Platt, also from Manchester, pleaded guilty to the same charges at an earlier hearing. The trial continues.

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