A Dunedin firefighter lied about being married and blackmailed another woman using the topless photos she had sent him, a court has heard.
Jayden Paul Haggerty, 33, was found guilty of the charge after a judge-alone trial in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.
The evidence against the Dunedin Airport emergency services worker was ''incontrovertible'', Judge Kevin Phillips said at the close of the day-long hearing.
The victim — a student working two jobs — met Haggerty while she was working at a Dunedin gym at the start of 2020.
By March, the woman told the court, they would message or chat nearly every day and became "very close".
Haggerty told her he was divorced but the cracks in his story started to show when his partner gave birth to their third child, which he said was not his.
"He was someone who I thought I could trust and rely on. I don't let myself be very open with many people," she said.
The pair struggled to find time to meet but their communications became increasingly erotic.
Haggerty would send her photos of himself naked from the waist down and she would respond with a topless image, she told the court.
"We sent each other quite a few explicit photos, which I thought would be safe. I didn't think they were ever going to be used against me at all."
However, in June last year, the woman's trust in Haggerty disintegrated when sources close to him told her of the true status of his marriage.
Despite the defendant's pleas to believe him, the victim put space between them, axing him on various social media.
A terse exchange at the gym was followed three days later by Haggerty visiting the woman's second workplace, and she took subtle steps to avoid him.
The defendant's rage at her avoidance tactics became clear that night in a flurry of messages.
"Maybe I'll just post some screenshots of you on my page," Haggerty wrote.
''Would you really be that low?'' she responded.
"Yes, 100%. Wanna see?"
"I'm calling the police."
"They can't do anything until I do it. You shouldn't have crossed me ... I've got nothing to lose."
The victim went to police and Haggerty was trespassed by the gym after the manager discovered what had happened.
The defendant immediately asked the woman why he had been barred.
''Don't lie or I'll post your pics. Do you think you will have a job when people see you sending your boobs while in store?''
That message, Crown prosecutor Chris Bernhardt suggested, was reference to a topless snap the woman had sent to Haggerty while she was at work.
It was clear he was threatening to disclose the image to her boss and put her job in jeopardy, Bernhardt said.
''So now you've called the police and blocked my number. Tell me why I shouldn't post these photos if that's how you're going to be towards me. Add me back on Snapchat ASAP please,'' another message said.
Counsel Len Andersen QC said his client was suicidal at the time, his messages ''just the rantings of a seriously disturbed person''.
Haggerty gave evidence that he did not intend to be threatening and did not recall why he wrote what he did.
But Judge Phillips said the motive was clear.
''He wanted to go back to where the relationship was, which was never going to happen,'' he said.
Haggerty previously pleaded guilty to a charge of assault in a family relationship, which took place a couple of days after the blackmail, during which he stood on his wife's foot and shut a sliding door on her arm.
He may yet, though, escape without punishment: the judge said the acts came ''at the time the defendant's mental health was at its lowest possible ebb'' and did not enter a conviction on either charge, opening the door for a discharge without conviction application at sentencing.