Thug extorted £40,000 from gay men by threatening to expose them as paedophiles

Sam Shepherd gay dating website blackmail

Thug Sam Shepherd extorted £40,000 from gay men he met on a dating site by threatening to expose them as paedophiles, a court has heard.

Shepherd, 28, from Portsmouth, was sentenced to six years in prison in Bristol Crown Court after he pleaded guilt to two charges of blackmail, according to the Bristol Post.

Shepherd targeted his two victims after meeting them on, prosecutor Charley Pattison told the court.

After striking up a conversation with his first victim, Shepherd threatened to expose him for talking to a minor. The victim denied that he had done so, but he agreed to supply the man with money to stop him from making the accusations public.

Over the course of several months, Shepherd demanded funds to buy a Peugeot car. He also brought his victim to a hotel and a casino and insisted he provide funds in both locations. In total, Shepherd extorted £30,400 from the man.

Sam Shepherd joined gay dating app as a ‘paedophile hunter’

He subsequently targeted a second man on the dating website and successfully extorted £10,000 from him. The victim subsequently opened up about his sexuality to his parents and moved away from Bristol, fearing for his safety.

Nicholas Clough, defending, said Shepherd joined the dating website as a “paedophile hunter”, but he soon turned to extortion as he realised that “financial gain” was a real possibility.

Clough said his client was in “debt” at the time and insisted he will “not behave in this way again” as he had learned from the experience.

He also told the court that Shepherd hated prison and would do anything in his power to avoid returning there after his release.

Delivering his sentence, judge Michale Longman said blackmail is an “ugly” and “vicious crime” that is rightly treated with “loathing and contempt” by the public.

Shepherd was handed a six-year prison sentence, while a second hearing was scheduled for 21 September under the Proceeds of Crime Act to determine if the extorted funds could be returned to the men.

Clough told the court that Shepherd is currently in a position to return £20,000 of the stolen money.

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