A blackmailer’s request for final name suppression has been rejected by Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave as he imposed a home detention sentence.
Judge Neave noted that the victim of Brett John Sargisson’s $60,000 blackmail attempt had adopted a merciful stance and said in his victim impact statement that he did not want to see Sargisson jailed.
The man had been “pretty resilient” and it was a case that cried out for the parties to meet at a restorative justice conference, which may still be held.
“The man was able to make sure that things did not get on top of him completely, fortunately for you,” Judge Neave told 38-year-old Sargisson. “It is not unknown for the victims of blackmail to make suicide attempts and sometimes to succeed.”
Sargisson had pleaded guilty to charges of blackmail and posting a harmful digital communication online.
Defence counsel Ethan Huda had urged the judge to grant interim suppression to Sargisson but it was refused. Judge Neave said he could see no reason why someone who was trying to blackmail someone else should be allowed to hide behind anonymity.
Sargisson had demanded money from a man over an allegation that he had sexually abuse another person years before. He man agreed to pay $40,000 and signed a “contract” saying that upon payment there would be no police involvement and the matter would be closed permanently.
Four months later, when no money had been paid, he found a note on his car from Sargisson saying he was losing patience. The man made a blackmail complaint with the police and Sargisson was warned about his conduct.
Sargisson then sent a message threatening to disclose the sexual assault allegations to the victim’s employer and associates.
When there still hadn’t been a payment by March 2017, Sargisson posted messages on at least five social media groups saying that a known paedophile was soon to be prosecuted, and to “watch this space” for historical sexual offences. Sargisson was then charged.
Judge Neave said the complainant had been absolutely terrified about further visits from Sargisson and did not know where he would be safe.
He reduced Sargisson’s sentence for his previous good character, his willingness to attend a possible restorative justice meeting, mental health and stress factors impairing his judgment, and his guilty pleas.
He imposed seven months of home detention with a further six months of post detention conditions.