A woman who tried to extract hush money from a married man she encountered on a dating site will not be jailed for her actions.
By chance, Catherine Bowe knew her suitor’s wife and threatened to expose him if he didn’t pay her £2,000 within four days.
Bowe told him she was “shocked” that he’d gone looking for love online and warned: “If you don’t want her to find out what you’ve been up to, it’s going to cost you.”
But Hamilton Sheriff Court heard on Friday the extortion bid ended when the man came clean with his wife and reported Bowe to the police.
She told officers she wasn’t after money but believed the man’s wife “deserved better”.
Bowe, 57, of Woodside Street, New Stevenston, was warned she was lucky not to be jailed. She admitted attempted extortion by threatening to send the man’s wife screenshots of intimate online conversations they’d had.
Jennifer Guy, prosecuting, said the man - using only his first name - opened an account on the Badoo dating network in July last year.
Within hours he was chatting online with Bowe who had registered under the name Kitty.
Guy told the court: “He said he found her sexually attractive and wished to engage in a relationship with her.
“Kitty was unaware that he was married and said she might be interested, but the next day he revealed his true identity to her.
“She then asked for his phone number. He found this odd and was spooked by the number of times she asked for it. He ignored the requests.
“The next night the accused sent a Facebook message to him which read ‘Hi ___. I was shocked to see you were ____’s husband. Small world!
“ ‘If you don’t want her to find out what you’ve been up to, it’s going to cost you. I’ve nothing to lose.
“ ‘You have more to lose than me. For all this to disappear, put £2,000 in my bank account by Friday or I send her everything.
“ ‘Ball’s in your court.”
Bowe then provided her bank details before sending the man another message which stated “Badoo. Ring a bell?”
The man didn’t pay up and four days later he went to the police. He showed them a screenshot on his phone which included a picture of Bowe.
The fiscal added: “Bowe made admissions to officers under caution.
“She said she hadn’t wanted to obtain money and simply wished to scare the witness as she had been friends with his wife and believed that she deserved better.
“The man himself told his wife what had happened. The accused did not tell her.”
Defence solicitor Michael Lott admitted it was “a nasty offence “.
Sheriff Allan McKay told first offender Bowe: “This was a reprehensible crime on one level and a very modern one on another level.
“Given the degree of criminality, and despite your lack of previous convictions, I required to consider all options.
“This had the potential to be a very serious crime and it was perhaps the actions of the complainer that prevented it being so.
“It is still serious and I had to consider whether or not to send you to prison.
“But the criminal justice social work report indicates there is a clear alternative to custody and I am prepared to offer you that.”
The sheriff imposed an electronic tagging order which confines Bowe to her home at night for two months.