Gay cruisers ‘arrested and blackmailed by bogus police’
Two gay men who went to a cruising hotspot in the Cotswolds were “arrested”, kidnapped and blackmailed by a gang dressed as police officers, a court heard.
One of the victims, 36, was handcuffed, told his abductors had a gun and made to hand over £160.
The other, a 78-year-old man, was taken to a cashpoint and forced to withdraw £170 to pay the bogus police officers.
Both were told they would be prosecuted for indecency offences at the Shab Hill beauty spot near Birdlip unless they paid out, Gloucester crown court heard.
Two men were convicted yesterday for conspiracy to blackmail for the October 2009 offences.
Tommy Hopton, 23, of Howell road, Cheltenham, was said to be the gang’s leader and was jailed for four years and four months. He admitted the offences against both victims.
Jack Severn, 19, of Carlyle Grove, Springbank, Cheltenham, admitted the offence against the 36-year-old man but denied being involved in the offence against the older victim.
He was sentenced to three years detention.
A third man was arrested but was not prosecuted.
Judge William Hart told the convicted pair that the offences were not sophisticated but their behaviour had been “worrying”.
However, he added that they had not been motivated by homophobic hate.