Jailed over threat to upload nude pictures

Over three months last year, Indian national Mani Velmurugan sent pictures of a naked Caucasian man to the women he met online, claiming that it was him in the pictures. In return, he got the women to send him photographs of themselves naked.

The electrical wireman tricked the 17 women he met on online live chat website Badoo into sending him the pictures and used these as a threat to try to get them to have sex with him.

On Thursday, the married father of three was sentenced to 32 months' jail after pleading guilty to nine charges of criminal intimidation. He could have been jailed for up to 10 years.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Janet George told the court that Velmurugan, 28, had befriended the victims online and kept in touch with them on WhatsApp, a mobile communication application.

His 17 victims, aged between 21 and 39, ranged from clerk and manager to interior designer.

He blackmailed them with their photos, threatening to post these online if they did not sleep with him.

Two had sex with him to get the photos erased and subsequently lodged police reports. One of them found out that he still had her nude photographs even though she had deleted them from his mobile phone.

Highlighting aggravating factors, Ms George said multiple victims were involved and the offences were clearly calculated and pre-meditated.

Velmurugan carried out all the offences under the guise of a false identity. He first formed a relationship with each of them, making it all the worse that he later threatened them - an indication of a breach of trust.

The case of the two women who had sex with him were "clearly more aggravated and egregious" as he threatened them even after sex, she said.

District Judge Eddy Tham said of Velmurugan: "He had a systematic approach by using false identities to chat with victims as well as the lure of employment opportunities.

"His intention was to satisfy his sexual lust. He must have targeted more than 17 persons. The accused clearly was relentless in his pursuit of his prey... He even went to threaten one victim after he had obtained sexual gratification."

Had he not been caught, he would most likely have continued, the judge added.

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