A man found guilty of using gay dating apps to commit blackmail was sentenced to 18 months at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today. 46 year-old Neil Duggan of Cobh met his 60 year-old victim through the FabGuys gay dating website and arranged for a date. He told the victim he was over 18 and organised to meet him on April 11 last year.
When the victim arrived, Duggan accused him of sending messages to his 15 year-old nephew and demanded he accompany him to the local Gardai station where the matter could be reported. The blackmail scheme kicked in during the drive when Duggan told the man the matter would be dropped if he handed over €2,500. After receiving the money, Duggan then demanded an extra €5,000, which his victim handed over two days later.
Four days after that, a further €10,000 was demanded under threat that Duggan would end his victim’s life and burn down his house. After this final incident, the victim went straight to the police and reported the blackmail.
Using CCTV footage, the guards were able to identify Duggan and arrest him, whereupon he plead guilty. During his time in court, Duggan apologised to his victim and his own family, citing a severe gambling addiction as the reasoning for his crimes. His lawyer stated he was currently undergoing counselling for the addiction which was “the genesis of his offending behaviour.”
To date, Duggan has repaid €3,800 of the money he extorted from his victim with a further €3,700 still to come.
While Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin noted the guilty plea had made matters easier for the victim by sparing him both a trial and media exposure, he had to take into account the serious threats the victim had been subject to and the calculated plan in creating a FabGuys profile in order to entrap gay men. Duggan was sentenced to three years in prison with 18 months suspended.
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