Blackmailer jailed over threat to place girl's photos online
A 30-year-old man who demanded a woman give him £300 or he would "plaster" pictures of her daughter over Facebook was jailed yesterday.
Travis Keane was handed a 12-month sentence, which will be divided equally between six months in jail and six months on licence, after he admitted a charge of blackmail.
The defendant, whose address was given as HMP Magilligan, also admitted possessing a stun gun without the authority of the Secretary of State.
Belfast Crown Court heard that on May 21 this year the complainant contacted police to say she received a text from Keane which said: "How about you get me £300 by the end of the week or I plaster your little girl over Facebook with photos she thought I would be in to."
Prosecuting barrister James Johnston said that when police launched an investigation, it emerged that Keane had stayed at the complainant's house as a guest for a short period.
It also emerged that the complainant's daughter had sent Keane several images of herself in her underwear and that he "didn't welcome the fact she had sent them".
Mr Johnston said that instead of deleting the images, Keane "held onto them" and used them as "leverage to blackmail the girl's mother".
Police then attended a hostel in Belfast where Keane had been staying and were informed by staff that a decision had been made to ask him to leave. When his room was being cleaned, a stun gun was found.
When the item was removed and examined, it was classed as a 12,000-volt combined stun gun and torch device.
Keane was arrested and when questioned about blackmail he admitted sending the message but said the woman owed him £300.
This claim, Mr Johnston said, was not accepted by the Crown.
Police also asked about the stun gun, with Keane saying he had it at the hostel, where he and other residents "played with it in his room".
Mr Johnston said there was nothing to suggest it had been used for anything improper.
Defence barrister Gavin Cairns said Keane's pleas had saved valuable court time and asked Judge Stephen Fowler QC to "temper justice with mercy".
Regarding the blackmail, Mr Cairns said it was "abundantly apparent" Keane didn't request or solicit the images of the girl in her underwear, and at one point he told her, "I am showing your Ma this conversation".
The barrister said that instead of deleting the unwanted pictures, the defendant made the "foolhardy decision to recover money he said was owed to him".
Mr Cairns described Keane as a man who had problems with drugs in the past but who has been seeking treatment while in custody.
Sentencing Keane, Judge Fowler described both the blackmail and the possession of the stun gun as "serious" but said he accepted the blackmail was "opportunistic" as he was sent the pictures and tried to use that as a way of extracting £300 from the complainant.
Telling Keane his actions were "shameful", Judge Fowler said: "It's fortunate for him that he didn't follow it through with further menaces or threats.
"The girl's mother went to the police and it was dealt with in a prompt manner."
The judge also said that while the stun gun was at the "lower end (of the offence scales), it's still a weapon he should not have had.
"He knows full well it was something he should not and could not possess in this jurisdiction, (but) he had it with him in the hostel," he added.