Bogus policeman jailed for blackmail - Stevenage

05/05/2016

The son of a retired policeman was jailed for 2 years today, Thursday, 05 May 2016, for his role in the blackmail of a Hertfordshire businessman in August 2014.

Chris Middleton, aged 27, was looking for 'easy money' to pay off his gambling debts when he became involved in the scam.

Prosecutor Daniel Higgins told St Albans Crown Court that the victim was contacted by a bogus policeman to say that he was at risk of being arrested for money laundering from heroin dealing. He was told that police were examining his bank accounts and threats were also made to implicate his wife. The man was told they would both be sent to prison and their children would be put in care.

Because the victim feared the threat came from a genuine officer, he approached someone he knew socially, who arranged contact with the police internal investigations department. As a result, an investigation was launched and a SIM card used on a phone sent to the victim was traced to Middleton. He was also videoed delivering a package involved in the blackmail at a post office.

Middleton, a lorry driver, of Webb Rise, Stevenage pleaded guilty to blackmail.

Claire Dowse, defending, said Middleton had been "the puppet," not the "puppet master." She said he had built up large gambling debts of £30,000 to £40,000 and had been offered £5,000 to play his part in the blackmail. "His father is a retired police officer and his mother a retired teacher. He is very ashamed at what he has done," she said. She asked the Judge to pass a suspended sentence, saying no money had been extracted from the victim.

But Judge John Plumstead jailed him, saying: "This was a sophisticated, professional and vicious piece of blackmail. It was utterly despicable behaviour."

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