Two blackmailers who were harassing a leading actress over nude photographs which they found on a stolen laptop were jailed for a total of three years and eight months.
Professional criminals Lee Fevrier, 35, and brother Vernon, 34, demanded a £4,000 ‘reward’ from the celebrity’s publicist for the safe return of the intimate pictures.
Before deciding to blackmail the unnamed actress, the pair had attempted to sell the 50 paparazzi photos to national newspapers and gossip magazines, including the Sun.
The snaps had been found on a laptop which was stolen during a burglary of a solicitors firm’s London offices in June, before falling into the hands of the Fevrier brothers, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Describing blackmail a very ugly crime the Judge Alastair McCreath said that the Fevrier brothers’ attempt was ‘pretty inept’. He added that they were not good at blackmail.
Vernon led the bungled blackmail attempt while pretending to be operating as a middle man for the person who had the stolen laptop.
He arranged for a pen drive containing the photos to be exchanged for £4,000 cash at a McDonald’s in Marble Arch, central London, on July 12.
He at first asked for a ‘reward’ before claiming he just wanted to some cash for ‘a few drinks’ and told the publicist he did not want to blackmail her.
But he then turned down an offer of £500 for the pictures, and demanded more money or threatened to publish the photos on Facebook or Twitter.
Prosecutor Peter Clements said the brothers were motivated by greed. Both saw an opportunity of making a relatively large sum of money, and both targeted an individual vulnerable to an offence of this type.
Vernon Fevrier and his older brother Lee were tracked by police as they headed to the McDonald’s branch, still in phone contact with the publicist.
But the pair argued about the best way to carry out the exchange, and they were eventually picked up by police when they decided to abandon the meeting.
The court heard the star, who cannot be named, did not know about the attempt at blackmail until afterwards.
Sentencing Vernon for two years and Lee for 20 months Judge Alastair McCreath said: ‘Blackmail is a very ugly crime, because at the end of it are threats to people, to sometimes harm them, or sometimes as in this case to sometimes expose them.