A plumber in Chester, England, has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to blackmail.
Chester Crown Court was informed that Benjamin Muskett, 31, came up with his plan during a hospital stay. A fellow patient suggested extorting money from closeted gay men who use hook-up sites could be a way to raise cash.
Muskett’s defence lawyers said he was motivated to embark on the venture as he needed money to support his family. He has a female partner and two children.
Muskett began corresponding with his 51-year-old victim earlier this year. To protect his identity, the man, who is married to a woman, was called simply Mr X in court.
The two arranged to meet on the afternoon of Sunday 2 September.
‘An arrangement was made whereby the complainant, Mr X, travelled to Sandbach and met in the car park of Co-op,’ according to prosecutor Peter Hussey.
‘He met the defendant who had given his name as Lee.
‘The defendant got into Mr X’s vehicle and after a discussion they agreed to travel out to a country lane.’
Once somewhere secluded, Mr X performed a sex act on Muskett.
He then drove Muskett back to the car park where they had met and the two parted company.
Blackmail and arrest
Afterwards, Muskett contacted Mr X via the website that they’d first contacted each other. He told him he’d filmed their encounter and wanted money or he would upload the video to the website. He told him he’d done this before with other men.
He wanted £5,000 in cash ($6,500/€5,670).
‘Mr X was particularly concerned about that as the defendant had been holding a mobile phone.’
Mr X called the police, terrified his family might find out about the encounter.
Police arrested Muskett, who said that he had not filmed the sexual encounter and had no video. He confessed all during his police interview. Police say his claims of extorting money from other men were ‘to some extent verified.’ Details of other encounters were not revealed further in court.
Muskett’s defence lawyer said Muskett’s attempt at blackmail was driven by a desire to support his family.
‘He was on benefits and felt unable to provide for his family. He’s a fully qualified plumber … In the cold light of day he realises how stupid he’s been and apologises unreservedly to Mr X.’
The judge called the crime, ‘particularly vicious because it was planned and deliberate.’
H/T: Chester Standard