Bleeding from a stab wound on the backseat of her own car, a kidnapped mum felt certain she would never see her kids again. If she let out a scream, or a single word, the knife-wielding attacker would ‘kill her straight away’.
The threats, punctuated by blows to her face, were constant as her violent stalker drove her across Birmingham. When the horror drive finally ended, she was dragged into a house and interrogated on a kitchen chair.
There, obsessed Lee Martin would tap her cheek with a knife and flicker lights on and off as he threatened one wrong answer would lead to death.
Read more: Timeline of violence – Thug stabbed and kidnapped woman before crime rampage across city
Her 42-year-old kidnapper would soon become the city’s most wanted criminal as he terrorized lone women, among other victims, in a terrifying spree. He preyed upon a pregnant woman for her BMW, pushed a couple to the floor in their own home and slashed a male driver as he tried to flee police last September.
A major manhunt was launched to track down “armed and dangerous” Martin of Trinity Road, Aston, before he was eventually arrested. He was jailed for 18 years, with an extended license period of five years on May 3.
Now, the 40-year-old woman who survived a vicious graveyard stabbing and 24 hour kidnap ordeal as she mourned her late sister’s birthday has spoken out for the first time to BirminghamLive. He was convicted of all five offenses relating to the mum, including section 18 wounding, kidnap, false imprisonment, threats to kill and dangerous driving.
“I wasn’t his girlfriend, I’d only known him ten weeks,” stresses the brave mum-of-four, who would not be named amid fears. She speaks from an undisclosed location somewhere in the West Midlands, where she was forced to move for her safety.
When she was first messaging Martin on Facebook, he seemed ‘nice’, she says. But he quickly became obsessed in a ‘dangerous way’ and soon ‘stalked the life out of her’.
She adds: “He was really pushy, he was always wanting to meet. On one occasion, I met him and he’d lost his cigarettes in his bag. As he emptied his bag out, I noticed my address on a piece of paper .
“He brushed it off. That’s when I thought ‘this is weird’.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to stay away from him.’ My phone was bombarded constantly. He’d get other people to message me, all I asked for was to be left alone.”
With what would have been her late sister’s 35th birthday coming up – the ‘hardest time of the year’ – she told him to leave her alone; at very least until after September 5. She had no intention of ever walking into him again.
But the next day, her life would change forever.
“I was an emotional wreck anyway. I was a little bit late, my family was sitting on the bench,” she says of the meet-up on September 5, 2021.
“My other sister told me there was a letter on the grave, and the man who left it is over there.”
She was in shock and told her family she would be back in ‘five minutes’ once she had asked him to leave the cemetery.
“I drove over, left the kids with my sister. Lucky I did otherwise they would have been with me in the car. I got out and was shouting him.
“I walked back towards my car, and as I have, my boot opened and he’s jumped out. He was shouting ‘you slag, you f****** slag, look what you’re doing’ – and stabbed me. “
Martin had knifed the mum right through a tattoo she had in memory of her sister. Inked on her leg was her sibling’s name and her birthday – September 5, 1986 – and he had stabbed right through the date.
At first, she didn’t realize she had been stabbed as he proceeded to repeatedly punch her in the face. She screamed at him to stop, but he demanded his injured victim get in the back of his Volkswagen.
He flung her in the back and pushed her so she was lying down across the backseats. She shouted to tell him she was bleeding badly, but he started driving off.
With her voice starting to tremble at the memory, she recalls: “He drove me out of the cemetery and my family were stood in the graveyard, they couldn’t see what was going on. I was bleeding.
“He was shouting that I was making him angry and telling me what he was going to do to me.”
The terrifying kidnap continued, with various stops along the way.
“He pulled over into this layby and I remember seeing a woman and thinking please help me. He turned around and started punching me, he was constantly punching me.”
She says desperate pleas for emergency hospital care fell on deaf ears. Instead brazen Martin began driving her around to various houses as she lay injured with her bleeding leg wrapped in his jacket. But each time they saw people, he would make up ‘a big story’ that the pair of them had been ‘robbed by a gang’.
“I kept going in and out of consciousness because of how much blood I was losing and because I’d been hit,” she continues.
“I knew he had a knife up his sleeve and he’d put it down the side of my door. He said: ‘You say anything to anyone and I’ll kill you straight away’.
Asked where she was taken, she replies: “Everywhere, everywhere. All over Birmingham.”
He then dragged her into a final address where he took her clothes off, put her in the bath and redressed her in his boxer shorts and a t-shirt.
She adds: “He kept taking drugs, dragging me into the kitchen, making me sit on this chair. He kept tapping my cheeks with the knife saying I’ve got to answer his questions – and if I answer them right, I can see my kids, answer them wrong, you’re gone.
“I said: ‘I’m not with anyone, I promise’. He kept punching me. It was going on like that all through the night. He kept flickering the lights, constantly.
“The whole time there was a house phone next to me, but I couldn’t do anything. He had that knife all the time, he didn’t leave that knife.
“All I kept thinking was: ‘I’m never going to see my kids again’. One minute he was my friend, the next, he wasn’t.”
Martin proceeded to tell her he loved her as he stated various terms she had to agree with.
“I had to pretend I loved him and I was going to be with him. I had to agree with the terms he said,” she said. They included answering his phone calls ‘within so many rings’, telling him where she was, what she’s doing and who with. He then proposed a plan to drive away to Weston together.
He would take her home to get her clothes and they would meet back up at 4pm. Terrified, she agreed. The mum recalls: “I was in a t-shirt and boxer shorts full of blood. I called the police the second I got to my mum’s.”
Still driving around in the Volkswagen he kidnapped her in, Martin went on the run – inflicting a reign of terror on lone women and members of the public.
For the mum, the nightmare continued as she was moved from hotel to hotel alongside police. Amid the major manhunt to find Martin, police were recording every threatening phone call she received.
“He was constantly calling me, telling me what he was going to do to me, what he was going to do to my kids,” she recalls. “Police were bringing up pictures to me all the time asking me to identify him. I kept saying: ‘What is he doing to people?'”
She wasn’t told and had no idea of the devastation he was causing with victims across the city – including smashing a woman over the head with a beer bottle and threatening to stab a mum.
She adds: “My leg was really, really bad. It kept getting infected. The knife had gone through the muscle of my leg, it kept trying to pop out and kept breaking the stitches.
“There’s no feelings there whatsoever. Some days it’s numb, it’s like a rubbery feeling, it’s horrible.”
Martin was finally caught after police asked her to identify a photo taken just 20 minutes before. His crime spree ended when he was arrested on September 14.
Asked how she felt at the sentencing, she says: “It’s just been a nightmare, I’ve had to move house and move areas. He’s going to get out again. I feel scared he’s going to come after me again.
“I’m constantly checking my car, constantly checking the boot. I take the parcel shelf down.
“I have moments where I’m alright and moments where I’m just scared. My mood is high and low, then all over the place. Every day, all the time I’m thinking of it anyway. But since the court case , I can’t get it out of my head.”
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