An evil blackmailer threatened to reveal a gay man’s sexuality to con him out of cash.
Leo Brightman befriended his victim after meeting him via a smart phone dating app for homosexual men.
He persuaded his victim to give him money, but when the victim refused to hand over any more cash Brightman turned to blackmail, Teesside Crown Court heard.
The judge described the offences as ‘evil’ after Brightman claimed he needed cash as his nephew was dying.
“The victim describes himself as being attracted to men, but who does not have sexual relations with them,” said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting.
“The two men had discussions of a sexual nature, during which the victim said he kept his sexuality private.
“Brightman said he needed money because he had a nephew who was dying, and he was being chased by loan sharks.”
About £220 was handed over in about two weeks, the court heard,
“Brightman asked for more money which was refused,” said Ms Atkinson: “It was then the victim received a series of text messages from Brightman.
“In these he said he would blow the victim’s family apart by telling them and his neighbours the victim was homosexual. He said the letters were already in envelopes, and would be posted if he didn’t get more money.
“A meeting was arranged to hand over more money before the victim called the police.
“They advised the victim to go through with the meeting, but Brightman didn’t turn up.
“He was arrested two days later, and when questioned denied attempting to blackmail the victim.”
Brightman, of South Road, Hartlepool, admitted two charges of blackmail.
Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, said: “He didn’t know the victim’s family, so could not have carried out the threats even if he wanted to.
“The texts were sent under the influence of drink, and it’s only in hindsight Mr Brightman realises the seriousness of what he’s done.
“He is vulnerable in his own way, and there’s no doubt he will be victimised in prison.”
Judge Sean Morris sentenced Brightman to 30 months in prison.
The judge told him: “Your actions were evil, they caused the victim a great deal of anguish.
“He had the good sense to go to the police, yet you still lacked the guts to admit to them what you had done.”