A former sex worker blackmailed a customer – telling her she had a video of them having sex.

The £62,000 scam was exposed when Gemma Page’s victim, a married man who had to take out loans in order to pay-up, subjected her to a ‘brutal and violent’ attack in 2020 that led to his arrest.

Page’s barrister, Sophie Chaplin, told Oxford Crown Court on Thursday (February 9) that the money had helped fund the drug addiction she had battled since her late teens. “She said she buried her head in a crack pipe,” the lawyer said.

Earlier, prosecutor Mike Hollis said that Page, 40, and the victim’s relationship dated back some two decades, when he had paid her for sex.

Their relationship had gone from transactional to a form of friendship, and the man would occasionally help her out with relatively small sums of cash.

In late 2019, he refused to give her money – telling Page that his wife was gravely unwell in hospital and it was not a good time.

From December 2019 until August the following year, she extorted some £62,000 from the man through a mixture of threats and ‘elaborate deceptions’. The money was paid into the bank account of Page’s boyfriend, Gary Buckel, who was cleared by a jury last week of laundering the proceeds of the blackmail.

Herald Series: Gary Buckel was cleared of money launderingGary Buckel was cleared of money laundering (Image: Oxford Mail)

Among the threats was a claim she had a video of the two of them having sex, which she threatened to send to the man’s wife. In reality there was no video.

She also suggested she would turn up at his family’s home together with her ‘brothers’.

The victim said in a police statement that he had been ‘clinging on to a glimmer of hope’ that Page would stop her demands for money. She was ‘financially crippling’ him, he said.

Mitigating, Ms Chaplin said her client was remorseful and the ‘root cause of Ms Page’s downfall over many years’ was her drug addiction.

She had a ‘traumatic background’, falling into drug addiction in her teens and early 20s following a number of family tragedies. Ms Chaplin said Page was remorseful for her actions.

Page, of Coopers Piece, Wallingford, pleaded guilty at the first hearing last year to blackmail. She entered her plea on a basis that not all of the more than 90 transactions were obtained through extortion or threat, and that she was not aware of the full sum paid out.

Jailing her for two years and eight months, Judge Maria Lamb said: “You blackmailed over a period of eight months a man who was initially a paying client of yours and became a friend. You exploited him in my view relentlessly and you knew about his personal circumstances.”

Describing blackmail as a ‘wicked’ offence, the judge said: “This was a thoroughly unpleasant course of conduct. It has to be marked by a prison sentence.”