Benedict Peers and Claire Matthews appear in blackmail trial

5 January 2019

Benedict Peers and Claire Matthews recently represented two defendants charged with blackmail and assault in case that attracted national press interest. Claire Matthews represented a woman who cannot be named due to the fact that she is vulnerable, known to social care services and has a history of poor mental health and a pattern of suicidal impulses. Benedict Peers represented Ross Olphert, a senior care worker who used his experience of mental ill health, including ADHD and bipolar disorder, to help others.

The woman met her victim in 2013 at a sex party and afterwards he regularly paid her for sex, the prosecution stated. In August 2018 the woman and co-defendant Olphert threatened to send a video of the victim having sex with her at the 2013 party to his parents and colleagues and demanded £2000. The woman then forced her victim at knifepoint to drive to his flat to collect an initial payment of £600.

Recorder Sarah Fraser Butlin said the woman was "clearly very troubled" and Ross Olphert "remorseful and easily led", but the serious crimes merited imprisonment. The woman pleaded guilty at Cambridge Crown Court to blackmail and possessing a bladed weapon. Her co-defendant Ross Olphert, 29, of St Neots, pleaded guilty to blackmail and was jailed for 31 months. See link to press below:

  1. BBC
  2. Daily Mail
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