Couple jailed for blackmailing married man who used gay dating website

Swindon Crown Court, Wiltshire
A couple who threatened to expose a married man they met on a gay dating website have been jailed for blackmail.

Daniel Edwards, 29, and Kristofer Wagner, 30, admitted blackmailing the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in February.

Swindon Crown Court heard Edwards, of High Street, Gloucester, made contact with the victim through gay dating website Grindr.

The man exchanged explicit pictures and messages with Edwards, who then asked if he was married.

When the victim admitted he was married to a woman, Edwards threatened to forward the messages and pictures to his wife.

Edwards demanded £2,000 from the victim to keep the information private and the man agreed to pay £1,500.

Wagner, of Wellington Street, Gloucester, accompanied his partner to collect the cash from the victim in a car.

The victim called police after Edwards called his landline number at his home address a short time later.

Miss Recorder Maria Lamb jailed Edwards for two years and 10 months, and Wagner for one year eight months.

"It may not have been sophisticated in its execution," she said.

"Edwards took advantage of the conversation between him and the victim on the social internet.

"There was an exchange of images and texts. Some were printed and those were recovered from the vehicle.

"They were taken to have been sent to the aggrieved's wife. Money was handed over to Edwards.

"I have read the victim personal statement. It details the misery and unhappiness that being subjected to this course of conduct left him feeling.

"No doubt it had implications for his wife as well."

The judge said Edwards, who has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, denied any involvement during police interview.

She acknowledged that custody would be difficult for Wagner as he has been diagnosed with a medical condition.

"I do take into account the trauma there will be being separated from your children," she added.

Following the sentence, Kate Lewis, senior crown prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex, said: "This case shows that homophobia can exist even in a situation where it is least expected.

"The defendants understood the sensitivity of the victim's situation and cruelly used this against him.

"There is no doubt that Daniel Edwards specifically targeted his victim, first by going on a gay dating website and secondly by determining whether the victim was married in order to blackmail him.

"The CPS according to its policy treated the case as a homophobic hate crime because Daniel Edwards threatened to 'out' the victim if he refused to pay the sum of money demanded.

"He knew the harm it would cause to the victim and his family. We considered the case as a homophobic hate crime because of the perception that the defendants were motivated by hostility towards the victim because of his sexuality."