A former Playboy model has escaped jail after faking her own kidnapping and ordering a terrified friend to pay an $10,700 ransom as a “joke”.
The plot, involving Angelica Harte and accomplice Darren Fitzpatrick, even saw the pair send a photograph appearing to show a hand with a finger cut off.
But police took the threat seriously, raiding a Neville Road home in Erdington, Birmingham, after tracing phone data — only to find Harte “alive and well and not in any difficulty”.
Matthew Barnes, prosecuting, said threats were made to the victim, with the message stating: “If you want to see Angel, leave £5,000 ($6,700) in a duffel bag at New Street Station. Every hour that you are late she loses a finger.”
Barnes added: “The victim was extremely concerned.
“There was a photo sent seemingly by Fitzpatrick of a hand with four fingers extended with one finger curled back in an attempt to give the impression that one of the fingers was actually missing.”
Birminghan Crown Court heard that the friend targeted in the ploy was a former kidnap victim herself.
Barnes said the victim asked to see Harte on video and was later shown a short clip of a female whimpering and begging for help.
There were more demands for money and threats and the female victim was also shown with a pillowcase over her head with her hands behind her back.
At no stage was any attempt made to say this was a joke and when the victim was warned: “If you want f—king blood I will show you f–king blood.”
The court heard the victim was told the price had gone up to $10,700 — and was asked whether she had any “last words” for her friend.
The court heard the victim had experienced flashbacks to the kidnapping she had experienced herself and felt seriously damaged.
Both defenders had previously admitted sending a threatening electronic communication with intent to cause distress.
Judge Paul Farrer said they had both originally been charged with blackmail and if they had been convicted of that charge, they would have gone to prison for a long time.
He said it was a “sustained and cruel joke”, adding: “There was significant victim impact here. It was in fact taken seriously.
“You targeted your victim who is vulnerable.”
Fitzpatrick was sentenced to eight months jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.
Harte was handed a seven-month sentence, suspended for two years.
Gurdeep Garcha, for Harte, said: “Her involvement was…