A blackmailer who threatened to expose a middle-class professional’s secret life as an escort was jailed for 14 months yesterday.
John Menzie set up an elaborate plot to try to force the woman to hand him £10,000 to keep her secret identity hidden from her family and friends.
The 56-year-old planned to stage a movie style “drop” for the money which he needed to pay off substantial debts he had mounted up.
But his victim went to the police and his scheme – which was branded “amateurish” by his own lawyer – unravelled, leading to his arrest.
Solicitor Gary McIlravey, defending, told Dundee Sheriff Court: “It is quite clear he was going through a difficult period in his life and had substantial debts.
“It is a serious offence but this was conducted in a fairly amateurish way. It was not well thought through.”
Jailing him, and imposing a 10-year non-harassment order, Sheriff Alastair Carmichael said: “Your solicitor described what you did as amateurish but it was still organised and planned by you.
“This was a particularly unpleasant case of attempted extortion, because of the nature of the threats to reveal private and personal information.
“The only option here is a custodial sentence in order to express society’s disapproval of this type of behaviour and the only adequate punishment for this type of offence.”
The court heard how Menzie told the woman to pay him £10,000 in “used notes” to avoid her secret being exposed to her employers and members of her family.
He posted her a letter which read: “Do you remember the old saying, your past is creeping up on you? Well, yours is about to rear its ugly head.”
Menzie had discovered the woman’s secret and pretended to her that he had video footage of her in a hotel room with a client.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said: “For a period in 2016 she worked as an escort by advertising her services online under a pseudonym.
“No-one in her life is aware that she has undertaken this work, including her partner and her children.”
Menzie, of Gleneagles Road, Dundee, admitted trying to extort £10,000 from the woman, known as JE, by threatening to expose her past in Dundee and Perthshire on February 4.