Grandfather blackmailed by 25-year-old Grindr hook-up who threatened to out him to his family
A 25-year-old was handed a suspended prison sentence after extorting a married grandfather he began a sexual relationship with after meeting on Grindr.
Kieran Thurling was handed a 20 month sentence, suspended for two years, after threatening to out the man to his wife, children and grandchildren unless he paid him.
The victim, who has not been named, had been exploring his sexuality on the hook-up app when he met Thurling.
The two had sex around eight times before Thurling warned the victim he would put up posters outing him around Devon, where they both live, unless he gave him £400 for his silence.
After the grandfather told him he wouldn’t be able to raise the money, Thurling gave him five more days, but upped the amount to £600. He was told to leave the cash in a secret hiding place.
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Terrified, the victim contacted police, but because their encounters had been largely anonymous was unable to identify his blackmailer.
Officers set up a sting, instructing the victim to leave an envelope filled with paper at the agreed drop-off point. Police arrested Thurling when he went to retrieve it on the evening of January 20.
Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court told Thurling: “Having met initially on the internet, you threatened to expose his sexuality in a way calculated to cause him the utmost anxiety and fear,” DevonLive reported.
“With his family background, such a revelation would have turned his life upside down at a relatively late stage in his life. The psychological misery that would have resulted for him and others doesn’t bear calculating.”
Because Thurling admitted blackmail from the start, had shown remorse and was under psychological distress of his own, the judge allowed him to walk free from the court.
Brian Fitzherbert, defending, said he had been diagnosed with depression and suspected ADHD, which would leave him vulnerable in prison.
As well as his suspended sentence, he was handed 150 hours unpaid community work and 25 days of rehabilitation activities.
He was also banned from contacting his victim with an indefinite restraining order.