A copycat criminal who tried to blackmail Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for £200,000 in a "hopeless and hapless" plot involving the potential kidnap of his socialite daughter Tamara has been jailed for five years.
Martin Peckham, 41, posed as a security specialist who claimed to know of a Middle Eastern plot to kidnap Tamara Ecclestone that he said he could foil if he was paid the money by Ecclestone.
Peckham, who pleaded guilty to blackmail, dreamt up the plot after seeing a tabloid newspaper article about a similar attempt to blackmail the F1 supremo, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The father-of-two, of Silverthorne Close, Colchester, had lost around £8,500 on a deposit for a wedding venue and, unknown to her, could not afford to pay for the new location his fiancee booked, the court heard.
In an attempt to cover the costs of the wedding and buy the house he lived in with his fiancee, the dental technician repeatedly telephoned Ecclestone and Ms Ecclestone's boyfriend at the time, Omar Khyami, to give them updates on the fictitious kidnap plot and ask for money to scupper it, according to prosecutor Peter Zinner.
Peckham's lawyer, Satyanand Beharrylal, told the court: "The actions of Mr Peckham were hopeless and hapless compared to seasoned criminals."
The prosecutor, Mr Zinner, said Peckham hatched his plan soon after reading about the blackmail case involving the Ecclestones in June.
Passing sentence, Judge Alistair McCreath, the recorder of Westminster, said: "I accept that it (the plot) was pretty amateur but nevertheless you did set about planning with considerable care.
"Having piggy-backed on to an existing threat these were people already in fear. You compounded that fear and caused to the whole family very real substantial fear both during the time that you carried out this offence and thereafter. Whether this threat was ever one that could be carried out, that is by-the-by because they believed it to be true and were very, very frightened."
Peckham will serve the first half of his sentence in custody and the second half on licence in the community, the judge said.
www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmcts(HM Courts and Tribunals Service)