A Fife man who attempted to extort cash from his victim by threatening to post his details on a social media page set up to expose sex offenders has avoided a jail term.
Colin McKerrow, 35, of Cross Street in Dysart, vowed to visit the other man’s home, video him, place his personal details on a paedophile hunter Facebook account and threatened to hurt and murder his victim unless he paid a sum of money into his bank account at his address on April 7 2018.
McKerrow previously pled guilty to the charge, which was aggravated by the victim’s sexual orientation, and reappeared for sentencing at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Thursday.
The court heard how McKerrow had sent online messages to his victim with the intention of menacing him, putting him in a state of fear and alarm and apprehension of violence, and for the purpose of extorting money.
The victim, who was not named in court, is said to have initially responded to the threats by saying ‘You’re having a laugh?’, but the tone of the threats remained extremely serious and prompted a call to police.
Defence solicitor David Bell said his client’s offence had been out of character, adding McKerrow had just been made redundant and was involved with various dating apps when an comment online acted as a “trigger” for his behaviour.
Mr Bell said McKerrow had lost a large sum of money through gambling, and had consumed alcohol and prescribed drugs on the day in question.
The solicitor said his client had since come off all dating sites and had imposed a £5 daily limit on his online betting account.
Of the charge, Mr Bell continued: “It was ultimately an attempt to extort some money which was not successful.”
Sentencing McKerrow, Sheriff James Williamson noted: “The nature of this offence makes me have to think seriously about sending you to custody.
“However, it is clear the consequences for you and your extended family would be disastrous, which has persuaded me to seek an alternative to custody.”
McKerrow was placed on an 18-month community payback order and will have to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay his victim £300 in compensation, with Sheriff Williamson adding: “It may seem like a token gesture but nonetheless it is something that should be done to account for the obvious distress and discomfort you caused him.”