Two men sentenced for blackmailing gay man

21/08/2015

Daniel Edwards and Kristofer Wagner were sentenced today at Swindon Crown Court to a total of 54 months for blackmailing a man because of his sexuality. Daniel Edwards was sentenced to 34 months and Kristofer Wagner to 20 months.

Following the sentence, Kate Lewis, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex said: "This case shows that phobia against people having bi-sexual relations 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 biphobic 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 to be a biphobic hate crime because of the perception that the defendants were motivated by hostility towards the victim because of his bi- sexuality. We therefore drew to the attention of the Judge the power to uplift the sentence under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The judge, after hearing the prosecution's opening and the defendants' mitigations, said that the seriousness of the offence was in targeting the victim because of his orientation, which was a specific aggravating feature of the blackmail. This specific aggravating feature is the same that judge would take into account for the section 146, and  therefore no uplift was applied. The defendants were therefore sentenced to 54 months."

The two defendants were in a relationship when, one, Daniel Edwards, went on a gay dating website and made contact with the victim. After messaging the victim and exchanging images of a sexual nature, Daniel Edwards asked the victim if he was married. As soon as the victim admitted being married to a woman, Edwards used this information to blackmail him.

Edwards threatened to forward the messages they had exchanged, including compromising pictures, to the victim's wife if he did not pay £2,000, the victim agreed to pay £1,500.

Kristofer Wagner accompanied Edwards to collect the money from the victim and therefore actively participated in the blackmail. After the victim left, Daniel Edwards contacted him on his landline number at his home address and, fearing that the blackmail would continue, the victim reported it to the police.