TWO blackmailers have been jailed for their “well-planned” and “targeted” bid to force a York area businessman to hand over £10,000.

Stephen Charles Blyth, 45, confronted the pair’s chosen victim in his office while Jeffrey James Nelson, 55, waited nearby, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Nelson had used his home computer in the blackmailers’ home town of Horsham, Sussex, to identify the businessman as a potential blackmail target through internet research, including viewing the victim’s Facebook page.

He and Blyth then travelled half the length of England to threaten him on December 27, 2012. Blyth told the victim they would send sexual pictures of him and under-age girls to the police unless he gave them £10,000.

But, Nick Adlington, prosecuting, said the businessman took Blyth’s car registration number, told police about them immediately after the confrontation and though the blackmailers fled south as soon as they realised the police were involved, Blyth was arrested the next day in his car in Horsham and Nelson was arrested shortly afterwards.

The men were jailed for three years each. Judge Harold Crowson told them blackmail was “cruel and vicious”.

“This was well-planned and the victim was targeted,” he said. He dismissed defence claims about their motivation, saying they did it for money.

Blyth, of Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, pleaded guilty. He had 134 previous convictions.

Nelson, of Cotswold Court, Horsham, denied blackmail, but was convicted after a trial. His barrister, Abi Hudson, said his client continued to deny the offence and that he would find the separation from his three children difficult.

He had recently had a heart attack that led him losing his job and his relationship with his partner had broken down. He now lived on benefits.

For Blyth, Barry Smith said no violence was involved in the blackmail. Events in his background meant that his “moral framework was skewed.”