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Jeffrey Nelson and Stephen Blyth guilty of blackmail
TWO blackmailers who tried to extort £10,000 from a company director by using naked pictures of girls are today facing a prison sentence.
Jeffrey James Nelson and Stephen Charles Blyth travelled more than 200 miles from their West Sussex homes to the businessman's office in the York area where frontman Blyth tried to frighten the victim into handing over money by showing him the photographs, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Nelson, who had selected their target, researched the businessman on the Internet. A child's mobile phone was used to help the blackmailers keep in touch with each other. Nelson waited outside the office in a Mitsubishi Gallant for his accomplice.
When two hours later they backed up their initial threat with a phone call from outside Fulford Road Police Station, the businessman told them he had contacted police and they fled south.
But the victim had also spotted their car outside his office, and given its registration number to police who sent out an all-forces alert for it. The pair were arrested after their return to Horsham.
Nelson, 55, of Broadwater Lane, Copsale, near Horsham, denied blackmail, but was convicted by a jury after a three-day trial.
Judge Harold Crowson told him: “I am sure you will appreciate the likely consequence of the jury's verdict will be a sentence of imprisonment.”
Nelson showed no reaction to the verdict. Both he and Blyth, 45, of Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, who pleaded guilty at the start of the trial, will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on November 5 after probation officers prepare reports on them.
During the trial, the jury heard the company director had an old conviction for possessing indecent photographs of children and Nelson searched websites listing sex offenders in the fortnight leading up to the blackmailers’ journey north.
The blackmailers also used a photo showing the businessman with a naked chest that the victim believed they could only have got from his Facebook pages, which he had set to be only visible to friends he knew by sight.
The evening before the blackmail, Nelson visited the home of a ten-year-old girl and took her phone north with him the next day for use during the journey. He also topped up a Pay As You Go phone at 2.05am for Blyth to use. The blackmailers left Horsham at 4am on December 27 and were at the businessman's office by 8.30am.
Nelson claimed in the witness box the computer searches had been done by Blyth and though he accepted making the journey north, claimed he had done so entirely innocently. Blyth did not give evidence during the trial.