A former Sunderland AFC youth player who demanded money from a young woman to prevent online publication of naked images of her has been jailed for more than five years.
Daniel Staples, who played alongside Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback in the club’s youth academy, told his victim other people had photographs of her which they would circulate if she didn’t pay him, Durham Crown Court heard.
Staples, who was locked up after the victim went to the police, contacted members of his family to ask them to persuade the victim to drop the charges, the court was told.
“In online conversations the defendant told the victim he had paid the other people not to circulate the photographs,” said Christine Egerton, prosecuting. “He said he wanted £450 from her to prevent their publication in future.
“She paid £100, but after more money was demanded she went to the police.
“Staples was recalled on licence from a previous sentence, but in coded telephone conversations with his family, he tried to get them to influence the victim to drop the charges.”
The court heard a chilling anonymous note was pinned to the victim’s car which read: “Now then little girl, no one messes with our ex-inmates, you’ve got seven days to drop it.
“Sort it out or we will sort you out, and you won’t like it.
“We are watching and we will find out.”
The victim told the court she was frightened by what happened, and she felt like she was being stalked.
She added: “The £100 I paid was a lot of money to me, I don’t work, it was money I had managed to save.”
Staples, 25, of Jubilee Court, Annitsford, Northumberland, admitted blackmail and witness intimidation.
The court heard he was jailed for six years in 2012 for attempting to blackmail a bookmaker out of £10,000.
“He threatened to leave a bomb in the bookmaker’s shop,” said Ms Egerton, “He went so far as to leave a fake bomb in the toilet.”
Paul Cross, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Staples is realistic, he knows it will be prison.
“This blackmail offence was less serious than his previous one, it was more a matter of begging the victim.
“Neither did he suggest anyone should threaten her.”
Judge Simon Hickey jailed Staples for five years and four months.
The judge told him: “Your victim fears you will do anything for money, which just about sums you up.
“Blackmail is an abhorrent offence because of the effect it has on victims.
“Your victim in this case was frightened, and she felt deceived and dirty because other people had these photographs of her.”
The judge made an order banning Staples from contacting his victim indefinitely.