Terrington man pretended to be police officer in bid to extort cash, Norwich Crown Court told.
A BLACKMAILER who posed as a police officer to extort money from two men over sex allegations has been jailed for four years.
Darren Witham, 38, met the two victims in toilets in King’s Lynn and after making contact with them, suggesting some sort of sexual encounter, he then pretended to be a police officer and offered to drop the matter if they paid him cash, Norwich Crown Court heard.
The first victim, a married man, was so frightened he paid �1,000 in cash and gave him a gold bracelet. The second victim offered to withdraw �200 from his bank account but managed to get away from him while going to a cash point, and escaped without handing over any money.
Rachel Cushing, prosecuting, said that to reinforce his claim he was a police officer Witham had talked into a device as if he was speaking to a police colleague and pretended he was recording the conversation.
She said that both men later found the courage to come forward and report to police what had happened.
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She said that Witham was arrested and both men picked him out on an ID parade. When Witham’s home was searched the fake ID documents were found.
Mrs Cushing said that in an impact statement both victims spoke about how frightened they had been and how both had believed that Witham was in fact a police officer.
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The married victim also said how he felt he was at the mercy of Witham who held the power to turn his life upside down.
Witham, of Ashfield Close, Terrington St Clement, admitted two counts of blackmail.
Jailing him, Recorder Guy Ayers told him that he had put a lot of planning into the blackmail.
“You made it clear to the person that the matter could be resolved by the payment of money,” he said. “These are carefully planned and well executed acts of blackmail deliberately picking on vulnerable people.”
Lindsay Cox, for Witham, said that by pleading guilty he had spared the victims having to come to court.
He said that Witham was not in the best of health and was himself vulnerable and at a low ebb following the death of his mother.
Speaking after the case, Det Con Darren Nurse, said: “It took a great deal of courage for each of the victims to come forward and report each of the incidents to us.
“We were able to reassure the victims that all information disclosed to us would be handled sensitively and in the strictest confidence. We were also able to assure them that special measures would be put in place to protect their identities.
“Witham knew exactly what he was doing and set out to specifically prey on males using the toilet block. The impact his actions have had on each of the victims has been tremendous and they should be commended for the courage they have shown.
“We hope such a case will help highlight the measures in place for victims of similar crimes and act as an encouragement for them to contact the police.