Leeds woman blackmailed man into handing over cash by pretending to be violent ex-boyfriend and sending text threats
A woman blackmailed a man by pretending be her jealous ex-boyfriend and threatening the victim with violence.
Lucy Battle forced the "petrified" victim into handing over £970 after meeting him on a night out then contacting him on Facebook.
Battle sent messages to the young man pretending to be a violent former partner and made demands for money.
Leeds Crown Court heard Battle also recruited a former school friend, Shayanne Norris, to help her carry out the "vile" offence.
Jade Edwards, prosecuting, said the victim first met Battle on a night out with friends in Leeds city centre in July 2019.
They later became friends on Facebook and began exchanging messages in October of that year.
Ms Edwards said Battle told the victim that she had no money to pay for electricity and he transferred some money to her.
The following month Battle contacted him from a different Facebook account.
She said she had deactivated her old account as she did not want her ex boyfriend to see their messages.
Battle told him that her former partner had assaulted her and kicked down her door.
The prosecutor said the victim then blocked Battle as he did not want any trouble.
On December 23 he received a series of text messages from an unknown number.
One message read: "It's not hard to find your address."
The victim asked who the messages were from and he was informed that they were from Battle's ex partner.
Another message read: "Don't act stupid. I have seen everything on Lucy's Facebook."
"I have seen it all and I'm going to come for you."
The court heard the victim was petrified.
A further message read: "I have already smashed Lucy up. I'm not messing around being made a fool of."
Another message was sent saying: "Give me some dough."
The victim agreed to pay £200 and was told to transfer the money into Battle's bank account.
More demands for money continued over the Christmas period.
The victim was sent screenshots of his Facebook messages to Battle as pressure was put on him to transfer money.
On December 28 the victim received a WhatsApp message purporting to be from Battle's ex partner, claiming that he needed more money for a solicitor as he might be going to jail for assaulting her.
The victim transferred a further £150.
The court heard how Norris also became involved in the offending.
One one occasion she claimed to be Battle's ex partner's sister before demanding money.
Police were contacted after the victim told his mother.
The messages were traced to Battle and Norris and they were both arrested.
Battle targeted the victim again after being arrested by sending him an email with a Paypal request for money.
Ms Edwards said: "The message made him burst into tears."
Battle, 20, of Cheswick Terrace, Burley, and Norris, 20, Wellington Grove, Bramley, both pleaded guilty to blackmail.
The court heard the victim paid a total of £970 through fear.
In a statement to the court he described how he lived in constant fear for months after the offending.
Ms Edwards said: "Everyone's lockdown started on March 20 last year. But his started on December 23, 2019.
"Over the following months he refused to leave the house other than for work.
"He suffered sleepless nights and constant anxiety that he was being followed home from work."
Shila Whitehead, mitigating for Battle, said her client was ashamed of what she had done and wanted to apologise.
Ms Whitehead said Battle was aged 18 at the time of the offending, was abusing drugs and committed the offence to fund her habit.
The barrister said Battle had turned her life around since being arrested.
She is now free of drugs, has become a mother and is devoted to her baby son.
Aubrey Sampson, for Norris, said the defendant has no previous convictions and is also ashamed of what she did.
Battle was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 12 months.
She was ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work and complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Norris was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, and told she must do 40 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing, Recorder Nicholas Lumley QC told Battle: "You seized upon (the victim) and you scared the life out of him.
"He was a wholly innocent young man.
"You caused him to hand over his hard earned money, going back to him and getting more money by pretending to be a vicious, violent male.
"You preyed upon him and his good nature in a scary and sophisticated way. You told lie upon lie.
"You then recruited Miss Norris, a school friend of yours.
"Together you continued to threaten, to frighten and to intimidate this young man."
Recorder Lumley told Battle that she deserved to go immediately to prison but agreed to suspended the sentence due to her becoming a mother and transforming her life.
He added: "I accept that you are a different person altogether to that vile person who preyed upon (the victim)."
Both defendants were made the subject of a restraining order banning them from contacting the victim for ten years.