A Hartlepool police officer has been commended for her work in bringing a blackmailer to justice.
PC Lorene Haworth was presented with the Chief Constable’s commendation for her work on a complex case which saw Sharon Mincher eventually jailed for five years.
Mincher, 45, who blackmailed a vulnerable man out of £40,000 was handed the sentence on appeal in September 2016.
She had previously been given a two-year suspended sentence for extortion, which went on for 15 years, but the Court of Appeal ruled it was not enough and jailed her.
Mincher had targeted, befriended and exploited the older man for money over an extended period of time.
When the victim attempted to refuse her demands for money, she threatened to report him to the police for rape.
The victim has stated that he no longer lives in fearCleveland Police
She pleaded guilty at Teesside Crown Court in May last year to an offence of blackmail and of stalking.
At the original hearing the court heard that Mincher, of Church Street, Hartlepool, had more than 100 convictions on her record.
PC Haworth first became involved in the case in July 2015 when she was asked to visit the man, who was vulnerable, living alone and was reluctant to engage with officers.
A spokesman for Cleveland Police, said: “PC Haworth immediately recognised the man’s vulnerable situation and spent hours gaining his trust and supporting him.
“Eventually the victim disclosed the full history of the harassment he had been subjected to. The woman had been demanding money from the victim and threatening to tell police he had committed serious offences against her if he didn’t give her cash.
“PC Haworth arrested and interviewed the woman, and following the submission of a very complex case file to the Crown Prosecution Service, she later charged the woman with blackmail and six charges of stalking.”
After Mincher was given a suspended sentence, PC Haworth immediately liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service and sought to appeal this sentence, which was later increased to five years behind bars.
A police spokesman said: “As a result of PC Haworth’s dedication, a woman who was targeting vulnerable elderly men, over many years, has been prosecuted and has been sentenced accordingly. Most importantly, the victim has stated that he no longer lives in fear.”
PC Haworth was presented with her award by Chief Constable Iain Spittal.