Mother’s $52k black­mail at­tempt

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - DEENA COSTER

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

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