Nude photo blackmail sentencing

23:32, Apr 08 2014

An Auckland man has been sentenced to five months' home detention for trying to blackmail two women into sending him nude photographs.

In the High Court in Auckland this morning, Hayden Doug Spike Needham, 25, was also ordered to pay $420 in emotional harm reparations to cover the costs of one of his victim's counselling.

Justice Ailsa Duffy said Needham's offending was not of a high enough level to warrant imprisonment.

However, the element of "planning and deceit" and the disguises Needham used to try and obtain the intimate photographs lifted the level of offending, she said.

The court heard last year that Needham sent text messages to a 17-year-old woman in 2011.

He created a fictitious persona, called "Adam" and in time built a relationship of trust with his victim by sending her a fictitious photo of himself.

The victim was then duped into sending him naked photos of herself not knowing that they were actually being sent to Needham, whom she knew.

Needham later pretended to be a third person, called "Chris", and texted the woman saying he'd got hold of "Adam's" laptop on which her nude photographs were stored.

He then threatened to upload the nude photographs on to Facebook unless she sent more.

In July 2012, Needham then preyed on a second woman who had recently moved out of the apartment below his, the court heard.

He did not know the victim but "decided he liked the look of her".

When the victim and her boyfriend moved out of the apartment, the pair stored their belongings in a lock-up unit on the property.

Needham was tasked with getting rid of what they left behind, and while digging through their belongings found an unmarked disk.

He then put the disk into his computer and found that they contained more than 60 images of the victim and her boyfriend. Among the images, which were private, were photos of the woman posing in lingerie when she was aged 16, the court heard.

Needham deleted all but the photos of the victim in her lingerie, the court heard.

He then tracked down the victim on Facebook and created a fake profile, using an image of her in underwear as his profile picture.

Needham sent the victim a private message saying: "Do you recognise my photo, we should talk."

When the victim opened the message, she responded: "Who the f**k is this?".

Needham then told her, without revealing his own identity, that he had a laptop containing nude images of her.

He told the victim he thought she was "stunning" and asked for more photographs, threatening to post the images he already had on to 10 different websites, the court heard.

The victim then contacted police.

Justice Duffy said the first victim said she felt exposed and conscious of her body as a result of the blackmail.

She also felt "helpless and alone", Justice Duffy said

The second victim had received $420 worth of counselling as a result of the blackmail.

The victim felt humiliated, stalked and blackmailed, she said.

Crown prosecutor Dale Dufty said Needham's offending had an element of premeditation.

Needham created aliases and fake names to try and obtain intimate photographs, Dufty said.

The accused was a "fully-grown man" when he offended and "quite frankly he should have known better".

Defence lawyer Mark Ryan said that at 25, the accused was still a young man and men did not mature until a much later stage in life.

Needham's sentencing was adjourned in February after Justice Duffy ordered reports on the suitability of home detention.

The fact he resided on Great Barrier Island was a further complicating factor, as it was not possible to carry out an electronically-monitored sentence of home detention on the island.

Needham would carry out his sentence of home detention at a relative's home in Masterton.

Justice Duffy said Needham was not permitted to access the internet or use any device that could access the internet without prior written approval of his probation officer.

The maximum sentence for a charge of blackmail is 14 years' imprisonment.