A millionaire lawyer has relived the moment a blackmailer demanded £75,000 or he would harm his family.
Eamonn Dunne, 50, from Manchester, received a chilling ransom demand in the post warning him to hand over the money or his wife, children, friends and business partner would be harmed.
The blackmailer - who spent his teen years living in New Zealand - also texted the victim saying he knew which school one of his boys attended and urged him to drop off £25,000 in a sports kit bag at a designated rendezvous point - then pay a further £50,000 in instalments, the Daily Mail reported.
But Mr Dunne, a managing partner at civil litigation specialists Dunne and Gray in Altrincham, went to police with the ransom note and also showed officers a chain of text messages between him and the extortionist in which he urged him not to hurt anyone.
Detectives later traced the mobile number to Josh Odom, 21, and discovered he knew one of Mr Dunne's sons as they had gone to the same primary school together over a decade earlier.
Odom who was orphaned as a young child and then dumped by his adoptive parents had just lost a well paid job as a farm manager and targeted Mr Dunne as he knew he was wealthy and claimed it would be "easy" money.
In interview he said he had "gone from having a nice car and a house in a nice area to a car that is falling apart and a house in a rough area". He claimed he was "in a mess" and had blackmailed Mr Dunne "to get back his previous life".
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Mr Dunne a qualified pilot who lives with his wife 49-year old wife Sharon and their two sons in a £2.7million house on the edge of the Cheshire countryside gave a statement telling of his family's ordeal as Odom, from Northwich admitted blackmail.
Mr Dunne said: "The moment I opened the letter and read its content I was extremely frightened and concerned about all the threats but in particular my family. The blackmail I was subject to forced me to engage with the offender over text message which amplified the threats to my family.
"Not knowing who was responsible made me feel really frightened for the safety of my wife and children. The letter stated one of my children would be a very easy target and I thought that was my 13-year-old son. I was not able to sleep and spent all day Saturday trying to keep things normal for my family.
"I've now found out the offender was a friend of one of my sons, I would have met him and feel betrayed and feel for my son who will no doubt also feel a sense of betrayal."
The blackmail plot began on May 12 this year after Odom lost his £6,000 a month post on a farm in Cheshire and took up a job as a £300 a week landscape gardener.
Prosecutor Lisa Boocock, said: "Mr Dunne received a letter through the post and it said in fairly bold terms he had been targeted for extortion.
"He had to pay £50,000 in cash by 9pm the following Sunday and if he failed to pay there would be consequences not to himself but to his wife, sons, friends and business partner.
To reinforce that he said he know where he lives and made reference to his sons saying he knew where they went to school, referring to one in particular.
"It said if he involved the police there would be harm to those and the price would go up.
But if he cooperated he would never hear from the writer again. He said it should be cash in a kit bag and gave directions from where he lived to where he wanted it dropping off.
"Mr Dunne informed those family members and work colleague. Shortly after he travelled to the police station and informed them. He also then details an exchange of text messages between himself and the defendant's telephone.
"On Friday he sent a text message to the defendant asking he didn't hurt anyone and said he could they the money because it was too large and the bank wouldn't hand it over. The defendant said 'no excuses, no negotiation' and gave a time.
"There was a further text message saying he couldn't get the money and was not making excuses. The defendant said if he didn't have the money he must pay £25,000 and a further two payments of £25,000 and if they didn't see him the next day they would take action.
"He also said any contact with the police or set ups there would be consequences. The next day that exchange continued. The police managed to trace the defendant quickly and he was arrested the following day and interviewed. He stated that he had fallen on very hard times.
"He had a good job and a car and lost that position and decided to contact Mr Dunne as he remembered him as the father of a man he had gone to school with and he remembered he had a lot of money. He thought it would be easier for him to pay the money. He said he used gloves to write the letter and posted it to Mr Dunne's home address."
Odom - who had been in custody for five weeks since his arrest, was given 20 months jail suspended for 18 months and was ordered tom complete 250 hours unpaid work and was ordered to electronically tagged for four months under the terms of a 9pm to 5am curfew.
His counsel Miss Katherine Pierpoint said in mitigation: "He is utterly devastated and ashamed to find himself before these courts.
"He appreciates now the undoubtedly severe upset for Mr Dunne and his family when he received something like that. Mr Dunne was not to know it had been sent from a rather sad, pathetic 21 year old who was acting stupidly.
"There's genuine remorse and deep shame from this young man for what he has done. This was an unsophisticated offence of this type, it was bound to end in detection, he puts his own phone number on which the police track him by. It happens over a short period of time.
"The defendant tells me that the wording of the letter was something he copied off something he found online. He did know the complainant's son as they were friends at primary school. He knew they were a family he always thought had some money. It was the circumstances he was in at the time which made him write that letter.
"The court is bound to be confused why someone such as him would commit such a bizarre, stupid offence and that brings us to what you know. He has not had an easy upbringing and in no way does he seek to use that as an excuse for what he's done.
Plenty of people have a difficult upbringing. He and his siblings were taken into care a long time ago when he was five.
"He and two younger siblings were adopted by a good family. His father had an extremely good job and continues to practice in that area in New Zealand.. One can see that it seems that the reasons for this adoption was they wanted a baby and from a very early age this defendant and his middle brother were told these two were not wanted - the only reason they were adopted is because they wanted the younger child.
"Aged 15 his father gets a position in New Zealand and they live there. He ends up being put into care. He had to find himself in care living in Stretford. His brother went with them and then came back and it seems the adoptive family washed their hands.
"But rather than this defendant getting into huge amounts of trouble at 15 he became very self reliant. He's a real grafter, he was focused on always wanting to be a farmer.
The care home supported him he was taken out to the farm and got a moped so he could travel out to Cheshire. He bought himself a car and insured that so he could drive out and do the early morning milking.
"Then he got another job where he worked for a significant period of time and was extremely well viewed. He was regarded as one of their success stories, a young lad with a difficult upbringing who found his place in the world and was supporting his younger brother who had a much more chaotic life.
"The defendant then lost his job at the farm he was working at. There was a fall out with one of the employees and he got a job gardening.
"At Christmas time there's less work, it's during then he didn't receive much and he was struggling financially. He had never had financial support and had never gone asking for support. He always felt he could look after himself and his brother.
"He then commits what can only be described as the most ridiculous, stupid offence. In prison he has had his eyes open to a very different way of life that he never wants to go back to. He has been shocked by drug use and has seen more than one person die and be taken in body bags. He has had that punishment, that wake up call."
Sentencing him, Judge Tina Landale said: "The police told him you had been arrested but that didn't bring his anguish to an end because he realised he did perhaps know you and felt betrayed. This was an unsophisticated offence, the affect on your victim was unpleasant, he was anxious and fearful. It's a particularly unpleasant feature that you targeted his teenage son who was 13 at the time."
Mr Dunne who specialises in personal injury claims had a senior role with a leading insurance company before qualifying as a solicitor in 1998. His wife runs her own health and well-being company.