£1.4m to get your wife back
Ulsterman's blackmail threat to husband
Published 13/07/2007 | 10:30
A warehouse manager from Northern Ireland who had an affair with his wealthy boss's wife - and then demanded £1.4m to let him "have her back" - has been jailed for six years.
Daryl Cromie, now living in Langport, Somerset, warned his wealthy businessman victim, that he had paid two men from Belfast £5,000 each to douse him with petrol if he failed to pay.
The 42-year-old also told his former employer he had planned the extortion for two years as "revenge" for sacking him after he discovered he had been having an affair with his wife.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was desperate to keep details of their separation private.
Cromie reassured him he could have his wife back within a few days if he did as he was told, but warned she was completely under his control.
The husband - identified only as XYZ - bravely ignored Cromie's threats and called in the police, who mounted a surveillance operation.
Cromie, a married father-of- two, was arrested and quickly charged with blackmail with menaces.
He pleaded guilty at Taunton Crown Court yesterday to the charge and was sentenced to six years by Judge Graham Hume Jones who said he had clearly terrified his victim.
Peter Blair QC told the court that Cromie had worked as a manager for the victim's business. But he was dismissed in 2004 after he discovered Cromie had been having a relationship with his wife.
Cromie was later handed £10,000 after the two parties settled after an employment tribunal.
But two years later - in February this year - the businessman discovered his wife had made a banker's draft payment of £50,000 from their account to Cromie's.
She told him she was leaving him as it quickly became apparent her affair was back on.
Just a day later - February 7 - she filed a divorce petition, as Cromie prepared his blackmail plan.
He arranged a meeting with her husband two days later and outlined his demands - £1.4m and "he could have her back".
Asked by the distraught husband if he loved his wife, he said he was only doing it "for the money" and never wanted to see her again once the cash had been paid.
The victim finally contacted police on February 13 after his wife said Cromie had just returned from Northern Ireland.
He was fitted with wires so the police could listen to phone calls between the two men, as he lowered his demands to £1.15m.
Cromie was quickly arrested but initially played down the incident.
Ian Pringle QC, defending, said there were never any "heavies" in Belfast and Cromie was never going to use violence.
He also said he had lied when he told the victim he had not loved his wife.
"The relationship was entirely genuine," he said.
In sentencing Cromie, the judge said it was irrelevant if the threats were real or not.
"There was considerable history to this case, but the facts are you demanded over £1m with menaces," he said.
The judge also imposed a 10- year anti-social behaviour order, banning Cromie, of The Lawns, Curry Rivel, from contacting his victim or his family.
Cromie, who is back with his own wife, showed no emotion as he was led away from the dock.
The victim and his wife are also attempting a reconciliation and are pursuing a civil claim against Cromie to get the money the wife paid him back.