A Torrington woman who blackmailed a Facebook contact after sending him intimate pictures has been ordered to repay the money.

Megan Charlesworth sent pictures to the victim in return for cash but then demanded more and more money and threatened to tell his family what he had done.

She told him she would ‘ruin his life’ unless he paid up to £80 and carried on going back for more cash until he called in the police.

She was heavily in debt and told detectives that she needed the money for electricity and other basic items.

Charlesworth extracted a total of £180 over a couple of weeks and the victim only went to the police when he could no longer afford to pay her.

She appeared at a remote hearing at Exeter Crown Court by mobile phone from the front passenger seat of a car.

Charlesworth, aged 20, of Fore Street, Torrington, admitted blackmail and was ordered to do 15 hours of rehabilitation activities under an 18-month community order and to pay £180 compensation by Judge David Evans.

He told her: “You were 19 at the time and it may be you did not fully understand how seriously the courts take this sort of behaviour. If you were in any doubt at the time, you aren’t now.

“You deliberately behaved in a way that was obviously likely to cause the victim fear, worry and anxiety, and that is exactly what you did.

“I must bear in mind the rather unedifying background of the contact in the first place.”

Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said a friend of Charlesworth met the victim on the internet and started sending him pictures in exchange for money.

Charlesworth joined in one of the sessions in June last year and sent him a message later the same day demanding £40 and saying she would tell his sister what he had been doing unless he paid up.

She sent a further demand for another £40, telling him she would ‘ruin his life’ if he did not pay.

She extorted a further £80 through Facebook messages the next day and resumed the blackmail three weeks later when she asked for another £30, followed by a demand for £80.

He could not afford to pay the whole amount and sent her £50 before going to the police when she came back for more.

Mr Evans said:”There are pages of Facebook messages which contain repeated threats to expose him and ruin his life. He made a victim statement saying he lost sleep through worry and the anxiety he felt affected his work.”

Hollie Gilbery, defending, said Charlesworth did not realise that what she was doing was blackmail and was desperate for money at the time.

She was very young at the time, was being supported by the social care system and had mental health issues. She was totally open with the police and has shown true remorse.