Blackmailer manages to avoid prison

Jayden Haggerty
Jayden Haggerty
A former firefighter has avoided imprisonment after blackmailing a woman using a topless selfie she had sent him.

Jayden Paul Haggerty (33) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after being found guilty of the charge following a judge-alone trial in July.

He pleaded guilty to assault in a family relationship, as well as exposing a young person to indecent material, which involved him posing as a teenager online to engage in lewd conversation with a 14-year-old girl.

Judge Kevin Phillips sentenced him to four months’ community detention and 12 months’ intensive supervision.

“He’s really ruined the life of the blackmail victim and he still dismisses it as somewhat ‘silly behaviour’ rather than criminal conduct,” he said.

The woman told the court at a hearing last year that she met the former Dunedin Airport emergency services worker through her employment at the start of 2020 and he convinced her he was single.

The exchange of explicit photos was his idea, and the woman said she never foresaw they would be used against her.

When the victim discovered Haggerty was married with a third child on the way, she cut ties on some social media platforms, which angered him and prompted threats as he sought to re-establish contact, using the selfies as leverage.

“You shouldn’t have crossed me ... I’ve got nothing to lose,” the defendant said.

Judge Phillips stressed the threats were repeated by Haggerty as his desperation for communication with the victim ballooned.

“You lost that relationship because of the bucketful of lies you told ... destroying her faith in you as a person,” the judge said.

The victim told the court she struggled to sleep, stopped eating and was too scared to leave the house alone.

In March 2020, before things had reached crisis point, Haggerty created a social media account under a pseudonym.

Court documents showed he contacted a 14-year-old Levin girl, claiming to be a 16-year-old from Hamilton.

During the online conversation, Haggerty asked her a series of explicit questions, quizzing her on her sexual experience before the victim eventually blocked him.

Haggerty, in an interview with Probation, denied having sexual interest in adolescent girls.

Defence counsel Len Andersen QC said the convictions had meant his client lost his “dream job” as an airport firefighter.

He told the court Haggerty lost a subsequent job in manufacturing because the employer was concerned young female staff would be uncomfortable.

Mr Andersen said the defendant needed significant help with his mental health issues.

The victim hoped her own psychological battle would not be overlooked.

“Jayden’s mental health issues came from him being cornered after being found out to be a liar and a cheat,” the woman said.

The judge ordered Haggerty to pay her $1200.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

 

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