Patrick Doherty, 41, made contact with a man — a complete stranger — who had previously been told by a third party that she could help arrange the rekindling of a past relationship for a fee.
Doherty called at the man’s home in late July, saying he had come to sort the matter out and that he wanted £1,000 for the woman in addition to a £2,000 cut for himself.
“Mr Doherty said if he messed him around, he would turn up at his house with 10 lads and go through the front door,” prosecutor Gerard Rogerson told Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.
There were also threats delivered to harm the man’s parents and torch their caravan and boat. Doherty warned “he and his people” were not to be messed with, boasted that they were not bothered about CCTV nor the police.
“He called himself an Irish traveller,” said Mr Rogerson. “He and his people were p***ed off as they wanted the money quickly. He said he was being decent and trying to put off the rest of his people.”
Their contact continued in phone conversations, one of which was recorded by the victim on a dash-cam. Doherty made reference at one stage to the fact the man hadn’t gone to work that morning, causing the victim to warily check his car mirrors and take an alternative route when he next drove.
In an impact statement, the man described being left on edge and of fearing for his safety and that of his family. “It has kept him awake at night,” said Mr Rogerson. “He has cried himself to sleep. The issue is constantly on his mind.”
After the man did report the matter, Doherty was arrested by police who found he had separated a SIM card from his phone and stashed it in his underwear.
Doherty — previously of Low Harker, near Carlisle, and now of Wokingham, Berkshire — admitted blackmail between July 20 to 24, and the possession of a personal use amount of cannabis which was found after his detention.
Defence lawyer Jeff Smith said in mitigation: “He invites the court to look at his behaviour as drug-fuelled stupidity which he very much regrets.”
Jailing Doherty, Judge James Adkin said the prison term had to be immediate, to deter those seeking to engage in blackmail.
“It was wholly unwarranted. It was persistent,” Judge Adkin told Doherty of his offending.