Blackmailer spared jail over £2,000 plot to ruin ex-boss
A BLACKMAILER who wanted his victim to hand over more than £2,000 has avoided jail but still faces 200 hours of unpaid work and a two-year supervision order.
Nicholas Housden, aged 22, had previously pleaded guilty to demanding money with menace from businessman Stuart Henderson of Plymouth.
He admitted emailing former employer Mr Henderson on November 2, 2011 from his own email address, claiming his name had been "blackened" by the businessman after he quit the firm Elite Development Centre which offered football training for youngsters.
Prosecutor David Gittins told the court how Housden, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, had written a long email to Mr Henderson saying he had a "dilemma" over the "disrespect" he had been shown by his former boss.
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Mr Gittins said Housden threatened to reveal information about Elite to "the FA, the Football League and other minor parties" as well as to "every Chief Executive and Head of Youth at every professional club you work with" if he did not "pay the sum of £2,000" into a named account by the morning of November 4.
Reading from the email, Mr Gittins said Housden wrote: "It is a shame it has come to this but understand I have no reason to damage your company if you meet my requests."
The e-mail went on: "I do not need this money, but could not think what else I wanted in return for this information being kept quiet, other than respect and a good reputation which you agreed to but then have clearly failed to give me."
The e-mail ended: "I hope you do the right thing and pay the money quickly, and if this is the case, I wish you and Elite the best of luck for the future. I hate to even consider the alternative."
Mr Gittins noted that at the time of his arrest, Housden had two accounts in his name, one which held around £200 while the other was £101 overdrawn. His own firm, GamesSpex Ltd was £921 overdrawn.
In mitigation, his advocate Paul Trotman recognised it was a "very incompetent blackmail attempt" but his client did not recognise the "gravity" of what he was doing.
Mr Trotman revealed Housden had no material to back up his claims, reiterating it was an "unsophisticated type of blackmail".
Judge Darlow noted the Court of Appeal designated blackmail as a serious offence, stating "it's ugly and it's vicious".
He said: "The purpose behind this lengthy and lucid email was to cause its recipient distress, embarrassment and financial ruin."
He said the offence had passed the custody threshold, but accepted Housden's early guilty plea, the fact the blackmail attempt was "unsophisticated" and "did not involve the threat of injury to him or his family".
Judge Darlow sentenced Housden to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, passed a 24 month supervision order and ordered the completion of 200 hours unpaid work and six sessions of a gambling specified activity programme requirement.
He adjourned decision on whether Housden should be given a restraining order until further information was given by prosecutors.