Blackmail with photo alleged

A woman recovering from what she describes as a $1000-a-week methamphetamine habit has told a jury former drug-using friends tried to blackmail her out of thousands of dollars, by threatening to disseminate a lewd photograph of her and videos of her smoking methamphetamine while pregnant.

In Gisborne District Court yesterday, Kataraina Kohere aka Gordon testified that William Charlie Waihi aka William Donald Whittington, 36, and a woman, whose name and details are suppressed, threatened to send the compromising material to her friends, family, the Gisborne Herald and Oranga Tamariki, unless she gave them $3000 or $2000 and her Subaru vehicle.

The accused have each pleaded not guilty to a jointly-laid charge of blackmail.

Opening the Crown case, prosecutor Megan Mitchell said Ms Kohere and the defendants were once friends due to their common interest in methamphetamine.

During 2017, Ms Kohere gave Waihi $400 for methamphetamine but he never supplied it.

Attempting to persuade him to come to her house with the drugs, she sent him a picture of herself naked.

He was the only person to whom she had ever sent it, she said.

The tactic did not work and at the time it seemed nothing would come of it. But a few months later, Waihi showed the image to Ms Kohere’s husband and in early 2018, Ms Kohere received an unexpected phone call from the female accused.

The woman said Waihi would make the photo and a video of her smoking methamphetamine while pregnant go viral, unless Ms Kohere paid.

The threat was accompanied by a barrage of self-deleting secret Facebook messages, some of which Ms Kohere screen-shot before they disappeared. There were also telephone and Facebook calls — mostly to Ms Kohere directly, but some via her parents’ landline.

The female accused initially just seemed to be passing on the message from Waihi but in law even undertaking that role - if done with an intention to assist - could make someone guilty of blackmail, Ms Mitchell told the jury.

The key issues for jurors to decide in determining this case were simple, she said. Did anyone threaten to share compromising material? Did they threaten to do it unless Ms Kohere paid money? And was it the defendants who made those threats?

In evidence, Ms Kohere told jurors she pulled away from the meth scene in mid-2017 after discovering she was pregnant.

“I had to pull away from that world. I had to — it wasn’t worth losing everything I had,” she said.

She revealed her addiction to her family over Christmas that year.

She was surprised when she suddenly heard from the female accused out of the blue and that the photo she had previously sent to Waihi was now being used against her. She did not know if there were really any videos of her.

She knew who the calls and messages were coming from. She knew the female accused’s voice and communications from her were also identified by her Facebook profile picture. She could tell when some of the messages were authored by Waihi — she knew from the way he spoke. It was different to the way the woman spoke.

He changed the name of his Facebook profile so some of his messages were said to be coming from “God”.

At one point, the female accused told her she had Waihi’s phone and could delete the photo, but refused to do so — instead urging Ms Kohere to pay.

After conferring with family, she went that day to police but continued to engage in secret messages with the accused later that evening.

Under cross-examination by counsel Nicola Wright for the female accused and Amanda Courtney for Waihi, Ms Kohere confirmed that at the time of the alleged incident she was on home detention for attempting to pervert justice by concealing eight grams of meth for someone.

She conceded she had not recorded or screenshot all the messages and calls she received but said that was only due to impracticalities and not in any deliberate attempt to bolster her allegations.

She agreed she had essentially been evidence- gathering, a task better left for police.

Ms Kohere strongly refuted the possibility she could have been mistaken as to who was making the messages and calls.

She agreed her life on meth had been chaotic — a rollercoaster.

“Yeah I’m still riding it but it’s coming to an end,” she said.

“I put my family and kids through hell but I’m doing the things I need to do to get better and I’ve been on a waiting list for (residential) rehab’,” Ms Kohere said.

A woman recovering from what she describes as a $1000-a-week methamphetamine habit has told a jury former drug-using friends tried to blackmail her out of thousands of dollars, by threatening to disseminate a lewd photograph of her and videos of her smoking methamphetamine while pregnant.

In Gisborne District Court yesterday, Kataraina Kohere aka Gordon testified that William Charlie Waihi aka William Donald Whittington, 36, and a woman, whose name and details are suppressed, threatened to send the compromising material to her friends, family, the Gisborne Herald and Oranga Tamariki, unless she gave them $3000 or $2000 and her Subaru vehicle.

The accused have each pleaded not guilty to a jointly-laid charge of blackmail.

Opening the Crown case, prosecutor Megan Mitchell said Ms Kohere and the defendants were once friends due to their common interest in methamphetamine.

During 2017, Ms Kohere gave Waihi $400 for methamphetamine but he never supplied it.

Attempting to persuade him to come to her house with the drugs, she sent him a picture of herself naked.

He was the only person to whom she had ever sent it, she said.

The tactic did not work and at the time it seemed nothing would come of it. But a few months later, Waihi showed the image to Ms Kohere’s husband and in early 2018, Ms Kohere received an unexpected phone call from the female accused.

The woman said Waihi would make the photo and a video of her smoking methamphetamine while pregnant go viral, unless Ms Kohere paid.

The threat was accompanied by a barrage of self-deleting secret Facebook messages, some of which Ms Kohere screen-shot before they disappeared. There were also telephone and Facebook calls — mostly to Ms Kohere directly, but some via her parents’ landline.

The female accused initially just seemed to be passing on the message from Waihi but in law even undertaking that role - if done with an intention to assist - could make someone guilty of blackmail, Ms Mitchell told the jury.

The key issues for jurors to decide in determining this case were simple, she said. Did anyone threaten to share compromising material? Did they threaten to do it unless Ms Kohere paid money? And was it the defendants who made those threats?

In evidence, Ms Kohere told jurors she pulled away from the meth scene in mid-2017 after discovering she was pregnant.

“I had to pull away from that world. I had to — it wasn’t worth losing everything I had,” she said.

She revealed her addiction to her family over Christmas that year.

She was surprised when she suddenly heard from the female accused out of the blue and that the photo she had previously sent to Waihi was now being used against her. She did not know if there were really any videos of her.

She knew who the calls and messages were coming from. She knew the female accused’s voice and communications from her were also identified by her Facebook profile picture. She could tell when some of the messages were authored by Waihi — she knew from the way he spoke. It was different to the way the woman spoke.

He changed the name of his Facebook profile so some of his messages were said to be coming from “God”.

At one point, the female accused told her she had Waihi’s phone and could delete the photo, but refused to do so — instead urging Ms Kohere to pay.

After conferring with family, she went that day to police but continued to engage in secret messages with the accused later that evening.

Under cross-examination by counsel Nicola Wright for the female accused and Amanda Courtney for Waihi, Ms Kohere confirmed that at the time of the alleged incident she was on home detention for attempting to pervert justice by concealing eight grams of meth for someone.

She conceded she had not recorded or screenshot all the messages and calls she received but said that was only due to impracticalities and not in any deliberate attempt to bolster her allegations.

She agreed she had essentially been evidence- gathering, a task better left for police.

Ms Kohere strongly refuted the possibility she could have been mistaken as to who was making the messages and calls.

She agreed her life on meth had been chaotic — a rollercoaster.

“Yeah I’m still riding it but it’s coming to an end,” she said.

“I put my family and kids through hell but I’m doing the things I need to do to get better and I’ve been on a waiting list for (residential) rehab’,” Ms Kohere said.

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