Mother’s $52k blackmail attempt
A mother’s misguided attempt to help her daughter resulted in a failed blackmail plot involving demands of up to $52,000.
Sometime between October 1 and October 11, 2017 Raewyn Gwenda Perry drafted a letter to a 39-year-old man she believed had assaulted her daughter.
Within the letter was a demand that he either agree to pay $2000 a year until he turned 65 - a total of $52,000 - or a lump sum payment of $40,000.
The letter said if there was no agreement to pay up by October 31, the abuse allegation would be disclosed.
Perry, a 62-year-old first offender, previously pleaded guilty to blackmail and appeared in the New Plymouth District Court on Monday for sentencing.
Lawyer Jo Woodcock sought a discharge without conviction for Perry, who was supported in court by a large contingent of family.
Woodcock said when the defendant wrote the letter, she never imagined it would have resulted in this outcome.
The blackmail charge had arisen out of Perry’s ‘‘misguided’’ attempt to help her daughter and was not motivated by malice or spite, Woodcock said. It had been a one-off letter and no violent threats were either expressed or implied.
She said Perry was a mother-offour who had a professional career, including work as a teacher and manager, and could call on a history of good character, including a demonstrated work ethic and strong values.
Perry was very remorseful for what had happened and had also offered to make amends to the victim, Woodcock said.
She argued the consequences of a conviction for Perry outweighed the seriousness of the offending. If convicted, Perry would be unable to secure personal insurance and would have to divest her interest in property or family assets.
It would affect her ability to find work, paid or voluntary, as well as future travel plans, Woodcock said.
Prosecutor Jacob Bourke said the blackmail attempt was premeditated and had been ‘‘enormously stressful’’ for the victim.
He said Perry deserved credit for her guilty plea and he sought either home detention or a community based sentence as a penalty. He opposed the discharge without conviction and said the impact on Perry’s future employment was ‘‘speculative’’ at best.
Judge Chris Sygrove said when spoken to by police, Perry admitted she had written the letter, but did so under the belief she had a right to seek something from the victim.
The judge said while Perry had not made any violent threats, the sum sought was not insignificant.
He said the blackmail attempt had a ‘‘profound’’ impact on the victim, who suffered emotional harm through stress and worry. He also spent about $3500 in legal fees.
Judge Sygrove said the gravity of the offending, when balanced against the consequences, was ‘‘far too serious’’ for a discharge without conviction to be granted.
He ordered Perry to pay $3493.12 in reparation to the victim and complete 100 hours of community work.
A permanent name suppression order on Perry’s behalf was also rejected by the judge.
New Plymouth District Court