Leeds teenager faked kidnapping and sent video of himself tied to a chair to extort just £150 from relative
Paul Butcher made the bizarre calls to his girlfriend’s aunty and was heard begging for her help in the background as his accomplice told her to drop money in a Leeds park bin in exchange for his release.
He concocted the ridiculous scheme after she refused to hand over his girlfriend’s bank card, Leeds Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Chris Moran said Butcher asked for the card in the early hours of August 5, but the aunty agreed to give him £20, but wanted change.
She accompanied him to Dewsbury Road in Beeston at around 3.30am. He told her to wait but he never returned to her.
After she got home, she received a call at 5am from an unknown number and could hear Butcher in the background telling her that had been kidnapped and they wanted £50 to be left in the bin in Beeston, and had 10 minutes to make the drop.
She dropped the cash off and returned home, but got another call at 7.25am telling her they did not find it and she needed to pay another £100. They told her to check her Facebook private messages where she found the terrifying video of Butcher with the Sainsbury’s bag-for-life over his head and struggling in the chair.
After the frantic woman contacted another family member for help, they called the police. The supposed kidnappers had told her to drop the £100 in a cigarette box in a bin at Cross Flatts Park in Beeston.
Lying in wait, the police then caught 19-year-old Butcher himself approaching the bin after the drop was made, pointing Tasers at him and ordering him to get on the ground.
Butcher, of Foundry Mill Terrace, Seacroft, gave no comments during his police interview.
Held on remand in HMP Doncaster after he failed to attend court for an earlier hearing because he mixed up the dates, he admitted a charge of blackmail.
Mitigating, Robin Frieze described the episode as having “bizarre features”, but said that Butcher had no previous convictions.
He said that being on remand had “done him a world of good” and added: “There was no doubt he was leading a dangerous lifestyle. He was taking drugs but has managed to come off them completely.
"He is really sorry to his aunty, whom he loves. Now he is able to think clearly, he is devastated to have caused the distress he did. He appreciates how frightening it was for her.”
Judge Penelope Belcher gave him a nine-month jail term, but was persuaded to suspend the sentence, which she admitted was “unusual” for blackmailing cases which largely lead to immediate custody.
She told him: “This was nasty and mean offending, causing immense distress to family members. They thought it was genuine. What is clear is there’s a severe history of drug misuse.”
She criticised Butcher for failing to disclose who else was ”plainly” involved, including whoever made the call to demand the cash and whoever filmed him pretending to be tied to the chair.
She ordered Butcher to complete a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement and gave him a restraining order