'We will always be haunted by the memories' says North Yorkshire victim, as blackmailer Thomas McDowell is jailed

A blackmailer has been jailed for four years after pleading guilty to demanding £10,000 from a man in North Yorkshire.

By Court Reporter
Sunday, 1st March 2020, 3:27 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st March 2020, 3:28 pm

Thomas James McDowell, 26, contacted the victim on 13 December 2018 using an unknown number and said ‘You’re a f****** dead man, you’ve messed with the wrong family. I want my money’ and ‘I’m coming for my money’ before the line went dead.

After trying to the call the number back and texting to the blackmailer to say he had got the wrong person, the victim received a series of text messages.

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Thomas James McDowell

The messages demanded the victim hand over £10,000, showed that the blackmailer knew the victim’s home address, car and registration plate, and stated ‘If I don’t get paid today I’m blowing the car up’.

Enquiries showed that the mobile phone that was used to blackmail the victim was linked to McDowell after he was identified on CCTV by a local police officer purchasing a top-up voucher for the phone.

He was arrested the next day and a search of his home recovered some food items, that were purchased at the same time as the top-up voucher, along with the voucher.

Investigations showed that clothing seized from McDowell during the time of his arrest was also shown to be the same clothing as worn by the person in the CCTV footage buying the top-up voucher.

It was also revealed during the investigation that McDowell was known to the victim and owed the victim £1,200 which had been borrowed months earlier.

In interview, McDowell denied all allegations put to him and refused to comment on a number of questions but entered a guilty plea at court.

In a statement read to the court, the victim described how his family was uprooted from their home on two occasions leading up to Christmas, saying: “We will never get that time back with them (his children) and I feel we will always be haunted with the memories of that awful Christmas and this experience still impacts on our daily life.”

He added: “For over a year my family have had to wait for this moment of justice.

"I have had to see this man walk around town and past my office without a care in the world nor any regret for what he put my family through.

“It is an unexplainable feeling of not knowing that your family are safe in their own home. A place that is usually full of warmth, happy times and good memories is now tainted.

"The impact this has had has changed our whole family dynamic which make me feel incredibly sad.”

After pleading guilty to blackmail, McDowell, of Market Place, Thirsk, was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday to four years in jail at Teesside Crown Court.

He was also given a restraining order and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170.