Builder who blackmailed married woman over 'sex tape' dodges jail
AN UNEMPLOYED builder was given a three-year suspended prison term yesterday after admitting to blackmailing a married woman over film footage of the two enjoying intimate moments in the man's 4x4.
Alan Custy (35), of 76 Dun na Hinse, Ennis, Co Clare, and his victim are both in relationships and met on a dating website smooch.com, the Ennis Circuit Court heard.
Garda Claire O'Shaughnessy said Mr Custy demanded €15,000 from the woman, or he would send a secret film he had made of intimate moments in his 4x4 to her husband.
Mr Custy has a partner and is the father of two children from that relationship, and has one other child from a previous relationship, the court heard.
Following a complaint from the victim, gardai searched Mr Custy's jeep and found no secret camera and he later admitted in a garda interview that there was no camera or footage.
Judge Carroll Moran imposed the suspended jail term, stating that what Mr Custy did "was a nasty thing to do".
In court, Mr Custy pleaded guilty to seeking the €15,000 with menaces from the woman on dates between July 14 and July 19, 2010.
He and the woman, who are both from Ennis, had registered on connectingsingles.com and smooch.com sites which they both admitted were mainly used by people who are not single.
Gda O'Shaughnessy said that the two met over a period of 10 days in July 2010 after meeting on the smooch.com website
Mr Custy told the woman that he was single, didn't have any children and gave her a wrong Ennis address, the court heard.
On Mr Custy demanding the money, Gda O'Shaughnessy said: "There were several text messages when this money was to be handed over to him and the amount required."
Mr Custy told gardai that he needed money to pay the taxman.
Gda O'Shaughnessy told the court: "Mr Custy at first stated that it was a joke, that he didn't intend it going this far, that he didn't intend for it to turn into blackmail. He admitted that he did send the messages and he did co-operate with us."
Brian McInerney, defending, said: "This is a rather bizarre case, I would respectfully submit. It is highly unusual and a matter involving two attached persons that got out of control."
Mr McInerney added: "He (the accused) doesn't know what took hold of him to lead to this particular exchange of text messages. It has created some considerable difficulties with his partner."
Mr McInerney said that the blackmail took place over "a very short and concentrated burst" and "came to a very swift end when gardai got involved".
He added: "Mr Custy gave a very early indication of guilt.
"He made full and detailed admissions.
"Given the nature of evidence, the accused will find himself subject of considerable discussion amongst the general public tomorrow and in the days ahead thereafter.
"That will be a very significant embarrassment for him. It is an unpleasant matter for all.
"Neither accused, society or victim will benefit from his incarceration. He apologises unreservedly to the victim of the crime."
Judge Carroll Moran said: "Blackmail is a insidious crime. It is mean and it can have appalling consequences for the victim."
Judge Moran said that he would suspend the sentence and Mr Custy entered a bond that he have no contact with the injured party and be of good behaviour.
The woman involved was not named in court.