TWO men who used a gay website to ensnare would-be paedophiles and blackmail them have been jailed for four years each.
The pair posed as an under-aged boy to lure two users of the Grindr website to meet for sex.
But both victims were horrified when they met up instead with blackmailers Nathanael Foster, of Wheatstone Road, Gloucester and Adam Webb, of Kingsway , Quedgeley, who demanded £15,000 from one and £10,000 from the other to keep quiet about their paedophile interests.
One of the victims had £15,000 saved in an ISA and drew it out from the bank to give to the men after they stayed all night in his flat to ensure he paid up.
But the other did not have any money and when they suggested he should carry out a ram raid to get the cash he felt he had no alternative but to go to the police.
Foster and Webb, both 26, pleaded guilty to two charges of blackmail.
Jailing them at Gloucester Crown Court, Judge Jamie Tabor QC said “Blackmail is always a mean and despicable offence.”
The men had claimed that, initially, they were not intending to blackmail their victims and were being “good citizens wishing to expose criminal behaviour”.
But the judge told them “The hypocrisy with which you committed these offences is breathtaking.
“You said you started off as good citizens but when you discovered your second victim had no money you told him to carry out a ram raid to get it.
“In the other case to all intents and purposes you falsely imprisoned your victim in his own home for ten hours until he could get the money.
“He was forced to liquidate his ISA and he was left frightened and humiliated as well as £15,000 worse off.”
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said “These two men came up with a nasty scheme to extort money.
“They were motivated by greed and prejudice.
“Their scheme struck terror into the hearts of their victims.”
The pair were caught after one victim ‘Mr S’, who they agreed to meet near Birdlip decided to go to the police and the pair were arrested.
Police checked their phones and became aware that a ‘Mr T’ had also been a victim and had paid them £15,000.
Mr T was traced by police and confirmed the pair had blackmailed him after he made contact with what he thought was a 14 year old boy on Grindr.
Matthew Harbinson, for Foster, said his client was not homophobic and had not been deliberately targeting gay men.
But he said he had become aware that there was a “business” in ensaring and exposing people who had an interest in young boys.
At the time of the offences, he added, Foster was high on cannabis.
Whatever happened to the £15,000 none of it had ended up in Foster's pockets, he added.
For Webb, Stephen Parker said he has recently found a new partner who regards him as wonderful and a good father to her four children as well as two of his own.
Webb was in business as a mixed martial arts instructor, he added.