Mum avoids prison for blackmailing dating website man

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A single mum who sent threatening messages to a man she met up with through a dating website has narrowily avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Wyke woman Shelley Broadbent, 37, admitted a blackmail charge in relation to the messages which she sent to her victim after he said he no longer wanted to see her.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (Thursday) that Broadbent and the man, who cannot be identified because of a court order, had engaged in consensual sexual activity at his home and he had given the defendant £100 because she had travelled there by taxi.

Prosecutor Robert Galley said when Broadbent tried to arrange another encounter the man told her he wasn’t interested, but he then received messages apparently sent by her “boyfriend”.

The messages suggested that the man’s home was being watched and someone would get hurt if he went to the police.

Mr Galley said the blackmailer was demanding £500 from the man, but he contacted the police and they were able to track down Broadbent and arrest her.

In his victim personal statement the complainant said the police had been “fantastic” and he asked that his would-be blackmailer be treated with leniency.

Due to the serious nature of the charge Calderdale magistrates sent Broadbent’s case to the crown court and last month she pleaded guilty to the blackmail allegation at her preliminary hearing.

Today Judge Mark Savill heard details about the illness suffered by the defendant’s mother and the possible impact on her young son if she was sent to prison immediately.

Barrister Georgina Goring, for Broadbent, said the offence had been unsophisticated and the mental anquish caused to the victim appeared to have been limited.

She said the offence had involved a threat of violence if the money was not paid and her client was now incredibly remorseful.

“Financial pressures led her, unfortunately, to do this,” said Miss Goring.

“She realises how very silly she had been.”

Judge Savill admitted that it had been a very difficult sentencing exercise for him because his initial view was that Broadbent thoroughly deserved to go to prison.

But he said having regard to her family circumstances he was just persuaded to suspend the jail term.

Broadbent, of Laverack Field, Wyke, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 220 hours unpaid work for the community.

She will also have to comply with a rehabilitation activity requirement and be subject to an indefinite restraining order which bans her from contacting the complainant again.

Judge Savill said Broadbent richly deserved to go to prison for her thoughtless and criminal act and he told her she should be thoroughly ashamed of her behaviour.

“Your very lucky not to be going to prison today,” the judge told her.