'Paedophile hunter' jailed for blackmailing victims
A self-styled "paedophile hunter" who blackmailed his victims for tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed.
Charles Touzel, 29, from Stiby Road, Yeovil posed as a 14-year-old girl called Sky to entrap his victims.
He arranged to meet them and when they turned up he threatened to expose them as paedophiles.
Jailing Touzel for eight years at Taunton Crown Court, Judge David Ticehurst said the "corrupt scheme was motivated entirely by money".
At an earlier hearing, Touzel pleaded guilty to four charges of blackmail involving three men, for a total of £33,000.
Ian Fenney, prosecuting, said Touzel took his victims to cash machines or their banks and demanded money.
On one occasion, one of the men was held against his will in a hotel overnight and forced to withdraw £10,000 the next day.
Mr Fenney said one of the victims, all of whom have been granted anonymity, was so distressed he attempted to kill himself.
During sentencing, Judge Ticehurst, said Touzel's "corrupt scheme was motivated entirely by money and he preyed on the vulnerability of his victims".
Det Con Darren Bowden, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "It was a detailed and a complex plan. He arranged to meet people he met on the internet with the purpose of extorting money from them.
"He must have thought it was a clever plan, but any contact on the internet leaves a trace.
"Through that we were able to locate him and bring him to justice after a two-year investigation."
Touzel's accomplice, Sophie Robinson, of Friarn Avenue, Bridgwater admitted one charge of fraud and acquiring criminal property.
She allowed Touzel to use her photo in the scam and helped him extort money from his victims.
She was handed an 18-month community order at a previous hearing.