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The Kyri Saga

Although this particular story did not generate more than a couple of articles in the media, they were used as a way of instilling fear in another saga the following year.  The story is also relevant to some of what happened on The Jeremy Kyle Show several years later.

The following story is about a young man named Kyri, his mother Bernadette and a self proclaimed cult buster (Graham prefers "exit counsellor".)  named Graham Baldwin.  It is packed with action and controversy.

During the U.K. summer of 1999 Kyri Sheridan met the Jesus Christians when they were out distributing literature in Guildford, Surrey.  Kyri was immediately impressed by The Liberator (a comic book version of the life and teachings of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Luke), and he came over to the house of a friend of the JCs for a meal. After some meaningful discussion about the teachings of Jesus, Kyri left and went back home. 

A few days later, Kyri called us, informing us that he wanted to join the community, and that he was already making his way to see us.  When we met him, we explained that we usually had something called a "trial week" where people could stay with us during that week before they made a final decision about joining us and before we made a decision about accepting them as members.  Although people are encouraged to live as though they had given up everything they have (by setting aside and/or not using their personal money, etc. during the week), they could choose to end the trial week at any time, taking with them everything they had originally brought.  Kyri was keen to give it a go, and he had come with just the clothes on his back, so we agreed to start the trial week.

The following night we received a phone call from Kyri's mother, Bernadette.  She asked for Kyri and spoke to him on the phone, telling him that she disapproved of his decision.  He tried to explain to her about the trial week but she was adamant that he should come back home and did not want him to travel with us.  There were more calls after that.  They were tense and at some point Kyri began refusing to answer the phone, letting Bernadette leave long messages on the answering machine.  The following evening, we received a phone call from the Guildford Police department, informing us that Kyri had been reported as missing, and that he was to show up at the police station before 10pm the next day to prove that he was in no danger.

We were concerned that Bernadette would be at the police station waiting for Kyri.  The fact that she had reported him missing to the police despite having talked with him on the phone and despite having been told where he was; and her insistent demand that he return home clearly showed that she meant to stop Kyri from doing what he wanted to do, and that trouble was almost certainly heading our way.  Kyri was determined to travel with us and so he tried to report at another police station nearby.  However, he was told that since the missing person report had been made at Guildford Police Station, he had no choice but to report there. 

Roland drove Fran and Kyri to the police station and sure enough Bernadette was waiting for them out front of the station.  Kyri introduced Fran to her, and she responded by telling Fran that he was the devil incarnate.  It was obvious things were not heading in the right direction!  She latched onto Kyri (literally) and started shouting false accusations against the Jesus Christians, leaving hardly any space for Fran to counteract her allegations.  It was a trying time for Kyri, too.  Fran told Bernadette that Kyri, who was 19 years old, was no longer a child, and that he was God's child and should be respected as an adult.  She later quoted him as saying "He is no longer your son, he is ours now!".

Kyri managed to get to a police officer inside and told him that he was not missing.  Bernadette, who was now assisted by one of Kyri's cousins and one of his friends, kept shouting over the top of Kyri, insisting that he was brainwashed and could not make his own decision.  She demanded that Kyri be put in a room by himself with her, where she could show him all the dangerous information about the "cult", which she had apparently gathered from Graham Baldwin, a U.K. cult buster.

Kyri told the police officer that he did not want to be alone with Bernadette, and that she was trying to stop him from travelling with his friends, something he was legally entitled to do.  The police officer then pulled Kyri away and spoke to him privately. 

During that time Bernadette, Kyri's cousin, and Kyri's friend began heckling Fran in the waiting room.  They accused him of being a brainwashed cult member, of being from the devil, etc.  No matter what he said to counteract their accusations, they would twist it and shout at him even further.  At one point Bernadette spoke in tongues over Fran, telling him she was putting a curse on him.  Seeing that it was hard to reason with people who had already made up their minds, Fran tried being silent and declined answering their leading questions.  To this Bernadette replied "They have trained you well!".

Finally the police officer came back announcing that he had spoken with Kyri, that he seemed in his right mind, that he was legally an adult, that he wanted to travel with his friends, and that he should be free to do so.  This was not well received by Bernadette and those who had come to support her.

Bernadette started arguing with the police and with Kyri.  Things were getting more tense.  During the tension Kyri's cousin tried a softer line, telling Fran that she understood things from his perspective.  She asked where they were planning to go.  Trying to reassure her that the Jesus Christians were not going to just "disappear" with Kyri, Fran said they planned to visit various Christian festivals (mostly toward the north of England) where they would hand out tracts.

At last Kyri and Fran decided it was enough and they wanted to leave.  When Fran and Kyri tried to walk off quickly, Kyri's old friend threatened violence and insisted he could not be outrun.  Bernadette grabbed Kyri in a bear hug and would not release him, despite Kyri insisting that she let him go.  The police warned Bernadette that if she did not release him they would be forced to arrest her, as she was holding him against his will.  She did not listen and so she was promptly handcuffed by the cops.

Fran and Kyri walked off quickly to the van where Roland had been waiting for them.  They noticed that Kyri's cousin, her husband and Kyri's old friend had jumped into a red sports car.  When they tried to drive off, they were followed by the red car.  They tried to outrun them, but it was impossible to outrun a sports car in their big old chunky van!  So, they drove back to the police station and informed the police about what was happening.  That did the trick.  The red sports car promptly sped off, with police cars chasing after it, while Roland, Fran and Kyri drove in the opposite direction, back to a friend's house.

It was clear that there would be further trouble, and because Kyri still wanted to have a trial week, the team decided to start their travels up north, where they could get away from a potentially violent situation.

A couple of days later, Kyri called an old friend and was informed that his picture had appeared in the newspaper.  Kyri checked, and sure enough, there he was... along with a headline reporting him as still 'missing'.  The article mentioned that Kyri had turned himself in at the police station and that there had been a confrontation.  But it also added that he appeared sunken cheeked and zombie like!  Another newspaper article reported that Bernadette was trying to sue the Guildford Police for having allowed Kyri to go free.

Soon after, the guys who were living and travelling in the van, started getting unusual hassles from local police.  Police would come to the van whenever they spotted it and ask for the names of all the people travelling in it.  This seemed unusual as the team had never experienced such procedures previously.  One day when the team was distributing literature in a town near where they had camped, Kyri thought he spotted his uncle, an Irish army soldier who apparently had been visiting Bernadette recently.  The team quickly got in the van and drove to another town.

Similar events took place a couple of other times over the next week, with police checking on who was in the van, and Kyri spotting either his mother or a relative in the town the following day.  The team didn't know if they were just becoming paranoid or if they really WERE being stalked by Bernadette with the cooperation of the police department.  Certainly the latter possibility seemed too sensational to believe, at the same time that the evidence before them pointed more and more in that direction.

They continued their travels until they reached Liverpool.  Kyri was seriously considering joining the group by this time.  One of his main concerns was that he was in debt.  He had a few outstanding loans, so he wanted to pay off the one with the highest interest first.  He went to the ATM to withdraw enough to make payment on one of the high interest debts.  To his surprise, the ATM swallowed his card and would not return it.

After Kyri informed Fran of what had happened, they decided to go into the bank to speak with someone about it.  The bank was a small one with hardly any tellers but several desks where customers could be seen personally.  Kyri and Fran approached one of the desks, sat down and began to explain what had happened. 

The man behind the desk heard about the card being swallowed up and confessed that he could not figure out why such a thing would have occurred.  He typed Kyri's details into the computer to get more information.  His facial expression changed dramatically and he told Kyri and Fran that there was no problem with the account, but that he needed to go upstairs to see the manager to get clearance to organize for a replacement card.  When he left the desk, Kyri turned the screen of the computer around to read what it said.  To his shock, the words "CULT INFLUENCE - DO NOT RELEASE FUNDS" was flashing on the screen on top of his account details! 

Kyri and Fran quickly discussed what to do.  They decided to wait for the man to come back and to ask him what was going on.  Surely, having such personal and religiously discriminatory information on their files was not standard bank procedure.  When the man came back, Kyri asked what the fuss was all about.  The man said that there was no problem, but that there was a techinical glitch with the account and it would take about a month to sort out.  Kyri asked him what was written on the screen.  The man said that there was nothing written on the screen apart from Kyri's account details.  Kyri became more specific, "Are you saying that there was no message at all on the screen telling you not to release my funds?"  

"I swear to God that there was no such message on the screen", replied the bank staff member.  Kyri then told him that he had seen the message and the exact words used, to which the man replied, "That was not a message, it was a telegraphic transfer text!"

It was obvious that Bernadette had had a hand in this.  Kyri recalled that she had a friend who worked in another branch of the same bank, and so assumed that she had been the one who froze the account.

The team continued to travel further north, to coincide with a Christian conference that was going to take place in Kendal. When they got there Kyri and Fran were distributing tracts about a block away from the conference.  They soon heard police sirens, and a police car with flashing lights pulled up to a sudden halt in front of them.  Two police officers got out, approached the two men, and asked, "Which one of you is Kyri Sheridan?".  Kyri and Fran looked at each other in surprise and at first refused to answer the question, asking the police instead why they wanted to know.  The cops were getting frustrated at their lack of cooperation, so Kyri revealed who he was, and asked again why they wanted to know.  They informed him "There's a phone call here from your mother!" 

Kyri's and Fran's jaws just dropped as they approached the police car where Kyri was handed the receiver of the car's mobile phone!  Kyri spoke with Bernadette and told her to stop hassling him all over the country, that he was 19 years old and capable of making his own decisions, that he had decided to follow God and that she should accept it.  Once the phone call ended, the police got back in their vehicle and drove away!

By now the small team travelling in the van were convinced that Bernadette had, indeed, managed to get the police, the bank, and other authorities in the U.K. to bend over backwards for her in bizarre ways.  Nevertheless, they maintained the circuit they had originally planned, and they kept getting hassled by the police along the way.

About a week had passed since the phone call that was personally delivered by the police, and the team was now ready to go to Greenbelt, a Christian festival that is held each year.  Kyri and Fran went into the festival, handed out some tracts and started visiting the various tents and workshops that different groups had put on, with each one explaining their own Christian views.  While sitting around a camp fire where a singalong was happening, Fran noticed that one of the ushers looked strikingly familiar.  He looked closer and sure enough, it was Bernadette Sheridan herself!  She had dressed up as an usher, and tried to disguise herself as a man by putting her hair up into a baseball cap!  It wasn't clear if she had seen them or not, so the pair quickly fled the festival and drove to another town.

It would take several other paragraphs to recall every other incident that happened after that, but it is sufficient to say that Bernadette was still stalking Kyri and the Jesus Christians for quite some time after that. 

Kyri had technically joined the Jesus Christians by this time, but was more or less rushed into making that decision by the actions of his mother who, unwittingly, had only helped to polarise the situation. 

Kyri was invited to work with the team in Australia, a place he always wanted to visit.  It was hoped that this would give him some space from Bernadette's harassment.  Bernadette had been advised by the Jesus Christians to try to develop a positive relationship with Kyri instead of fighting his decision to work with us, in the hope that if Kyri did leave the community at some point, he and Bernadette could have a good relationship.  But their wisdom fell on deaf ears.  Instead, Berni was doing everything in her power to drive Kyri further and further away from her.

When Berni learned that Kyri was in Australia, she made preparations to go there herself.  Whatever differences we may have had with Bernadette over the years, we have always admired her determination!  We only wish that she had taken a more positive approach to start with, which would have saved her, Kyri and us a lot of tension.  Nevertheless, she managed to find out which town we were staying in, and then started stalking the local McDonalds restaurant, knowing that we often meet up at McDonalds.  She rented a car and purchased binoculars, which she used to watch from across the road from the restauarant.  

She eventually did find us, and we again encouraged her to have a positive relationship with Kyri and with us.  She told us about how Graham Baldwin had advised her to charge Kyri with a crime (e.g. stealing) so that the police could put a warrant out for him, then arrest him, so that she could have easier access to him.  Fortunately, she saw through that, but she had followed Graham's suggestion that she at least report Kyri missing. 

We told her that the only way our relationship with her (and Kyri's relationship with her) was going to go forward would be if she would renounce Graham Baldwin's tactics.  She agreed, and we started inviting her over to the house for meals, etc.  She started buying a lot of gifts for Kyri, which was a much better strategy than chasing him all over the country, and probably did a lot to improve her relationship with him.

Bernadette also told us that the night she was arrested for holding Kyri in Guildford she was put in a cell for some time because she was physically resisting the police.  When they tried to release her she apparently went mad at them again and bit one of the cops and so they locked her up again for a few more hours before she calmed down.  She later threatened to sue the police for letting Kyri go without first subjecting him to a psychological assessment, and they bent over backwards to help her track Kyri.

After some time in Australia, she went back home to England, and eventually Kyri also returned to Europe to work with the Jesus Christians there.  He spent about a week back home with Bernadette over Christmas, and later wrote an article called: A Letter To A Brother talking about how he got sucked into wanting a materialistic lifestyle again.

Soon after that, Kyri left the Jesus Christians and went back home.  He did not give any reasons for why he wanted to leave.  In fact, he didn't even say goodbye.  He just left one morning, and that was the last we heard about him.

Years later, Graham Baldwin appeared on the Jeremy Kyle show claiming that we had forced Bernadette to renounce him, that he was never friends with her, and that he had a signed affidavit from her "proving" these things.  But we know that Graham WAS the one who was advising Bernadette throughout the whole Kyri saga, because she told us so herself.  Like his later claims that he had nothing to do with accusing us of kidnapping another person, Bobby Kelly, they don't hold much water against all the evidence proving otherwise.

Below are the few articles we currently have that relate to the Kyri saga.  We hope to gather more in the near future.
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