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County Durham blackmail threats end in jail
A BLACKMAILER tried to extort £30,000 from a retired businessman by threatening to expose him as a paedophile.
Jacob Barton was yesterday jailed for three years and two months after a court heard of a concerted campaign that left his victim traumatised.
Barton made numerous phone calls to his victim, repeating the threats and warning he would report him to the police unless he was paid off.
He said he had video evidence and other proof to support his claims and even called at the victim’s County Durham home.
But, Durham Crown Court was told that the ex-businessman had taken advice and alerted the police.
When Barton knocked at the door he was greeted by an undercover police officer and, despite being stopped nearby after leaving, he claimed to be a door-to-door canvasser.
It was only several weeks later, aware he was being sought by police, that Barton handed himself in.
Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said the extortion attempt was triggered after Barton was approached by a man who claimed his partner had been in a relationship with the businessman 28 years earlier, when she was about 16, or younger.
But Mr Newcombe told the court there was nothing to substantiate the slur and said the victim had led an unblemished life.
Mr Newcombe said the victim described the episode as a four-month living nightmare, which started with a call from a complete stranger.
Barton, 58, admitted blackmail at a previous hearing.
He was formerly living in Douglas, on the Isle of Man, but the court heard his family has moved to Darlington.
Bob Spragg, mitigating, said Barton was an alcoholic, who has sought psychiatric help for anxiety and depression.
“The reality is there are huge gaps in his memory of this whole thing,” he added.
Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince told Barton: “This was no momentary drunken aberration. It was a concerted campaign.”
He added that it was accepted that the victim was innocent of any criminal offence.