Woman 'picked wrong guy' to blackmail

Last updated 08:18 23/11/2012

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A Nelson woman convicted of blackmailing a man for $16,000 "picked the wrong guy to do this to", a court has heard.

Instead of collecting the money, the woman has received a sentence of home detention.

Jodie Maree Le Frantz, 34, unemployed of Nelson, had admitted the charge of blackmail.

At the High Court in Nelson yesterday, Justice Alan MacKenzie sentenced her to nine months of home detention.

On June 18 she sent a letter to the victim's workplace, saying she wanted him to deposit $16,000 into her bank account by July 20 or she would tell his wife about his affair.

She then texted him on June 22 to repeat her threat, and did the same on June 25.

The man reported the matter to the police, who arrested her shortly after.

The victim, whose name is suppressed, told the court he had been "living under siege", and had been shocked and stressed at the events that had occurred.

The allegations had meant he had had to have a frank conversation with his family, but he had nothing to hide.

"This is why I went to the police."

He said he found her actions despicable, and said he had never been subject to this sort of treatment.

At times he had been concerned that she would arrive at his house, make telephone calls or deliver material to his house.

"I was on edge every time the phone rang."

She had been captured on security camera footage at his work, and his concerns had him going to the police for a second time.

Addressing Le Frantz, he told her she had picked the wrong man to do this to, and she would now have to live with the consequences.

The charge would stick with her for the rest of her life, impeding on her ability to enter certain countries or get certain jobs, he said.

He had been left wondering if other men had been contacted and had chosen to "shut up and pay up".

Crown prosecutor Emma Riddell said a starting point of nine months imprisonment would be appropriate for the severity of her crime, but a community-based sentence would also be appropriate.

Defence lawyer Steven Zindel said the woman had been a victim in life as well, with a drug addiction that she was trying to kick.

But nothing gave a justification for the way she had behaved, and she would have to pay for her bad decisions.

Justice MacKenzie said Le Frantz clearly needed to address her drug problem, and her rehabilitation needs could be better addressed in the course of a sentence of home detention.

She needed to take steps to turn her life around.

"Unless you do the future for you looks bleak. Only you can do this, your future is in your hands."

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Her home detention came with the conditions that she not purchase or consume alcohol or drugs, undergo any drug testing required of her, attend drug and alcohol counselling sessions, and not to contact the victim without prior approval.

- Nelson

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