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Court hears of naked photographs threat to businessman
Two men allegedly blackmailed a company director for £10,000 by using naked photographs of girls, a jury heard.
Nick Adlington, prosecuting, said Stephen Charles Blyth claimed the businessman had accessed the photographs and threatened to send them and a photograph of the director naked from the waist up to North Yorkshire Police unless he handed over the money.
Jeffrey James Nelson’s home computer had been used to search for details about the businessman, including Facebook pages related to him and sex-offender websites.
Someone had used Nelson’s phone from a location close to the businessman’s office to call its landline at 8.24am on December 27, shortly before Blyth walked into the company's headquarters in the York area, the barrister alleged.
Mr Adlington, opening the prosecution at Teesside Crown Court, said: “It is the prosecution’s case that these two defendants were jointly involved in blackmailing the complainant, each defendant playing their own vital role in the operation.”
Nelson, 55, of Cotswold Court, Horsham, denies blackmail, claiming he had no knowledge of what Blyth was doing until he saw indecent photographs of children in the car both men used to travel to the York area.
He alleged he “went crazy”, got out of the car and walked away for between 30 and 60 minutes. Blyth, 45, of Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex, has pleaded guilty to blackmail.
In a statement to police, read to the jury, the company director said of the encounter at his office: “I was shaken by what had happened.”
He said he didn’t recognise any of the photographs, but he had an old conviction for looking at indecent images of children and assumed Blyth was referring to that. He also believed the photo of himself may have come from a Facebook page which would only have been accessible to friends he knew by sight.
Mr Adlington said as Blyth left the company building, the businessman spotted him getting into a dark-coloured Mitsubishi Gallant. The businessman wrote down the vehicle’s registration and phoned the police.
Two hours later, Blyth phoned the businessman from a call box outside Fulford Road Police Station in York threatening to go to the police unless he got the money in two days. The businessman said he had already told the police.
Officers put out an all-forces alert for the car which was stopped with Blyth at the wheel in Horsham the next day. Inside were ten photos of the businessman, some of which showed him naked, and ten indecent pictures of young girls. Fingerprints from both defendants were found on the photographs.
The car also had details of Nelson’s mobile phone and a sat-nav found at Nelson's home had York locations recorded on it.
Police used phone data and CCTV to track the vehicle's journey north before the blackmail and got CCTV film of two men near Fulford Road call box at the time of the second call to the businessman.
Giving evidence, Nelson said Blyth was staying at his flat when his computer and user account were used to search the Internet for information about paedophiles and the company director.
He denied being responsible or knowing what Blyth did on his computer.
He claimed he travelled to the York area to pick up a vehicle for Blyth and as soon as he realised that Blyth was going to blackmail someone got out of the car.
He alleged he got back into the car later because he was 200 miles from home but the atmosphere in the car was “not pleasant” and denied that CCTV showed the pair joking and on good terms after Blyth visited the company director.
He denied being either of the two men on the CCTV film taken in Fulford Road or making either phone call to the businessman.
The trial continues.