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R v Hester [2007] EWCA Crim 2127 Court of Appeal

The appellant was a police officer who had become involved with a criminal enterprise involving blackmail of two wealthy businessmen, Scragg and Phillips, who provided payroll services to the construction industry. The appellant's co-defendant, McKay, had contacted Scragg and arranged a business meeting in a pub. When Scragg turned up he was attacked by a gang who were waiting for him and falsely imprisoned in an upstairs room of the pub. Phillips was contacted by McKay who demanded £72,000 for the release of Scragg. He directed Phillips to pay the money to the appellant. The appellant was then contacted and informed of the situation and told to receive the money. He was convicted of blackmail and appealed contending that by the time he was involved in the criminal enterprise the demand for money had already been made and therefore he could not be liable for making a demand with menaces.

Held:

The conviction for blackmail was upheld. The demand amounts to a continuing act and does not cease until the threat ceases.

"The offence may be complete before the engagement of Mr Hester, in the sense that all of the ingredients of blackmail were present. That is a separate question from whether that offence of blackmail continues for a further period of time during which another person joins in. Blackmail continues until the demand ceases and the threat is withdrawn. The demand in this case did not cease until payment. The threat was not withdrawn until the payment had been made. That is the essence of blackmail in many cases. It is often a continuing offence."
 
Back to lecture outline on The Law of Blackmail