Muslim woman ‘blackmailed by couple who threatened to show family photos of her wearing Western clothes’

An asylum seeker and his wife blackmailed a Muslim friend by threatening to show photographs of her wearing jeans and a T-shirt to her devout family, a court heard yesterday.

Emal Ismaeli, 34, and Joanna Richards, 22, demanded more than £7,000 in a two-month terror campaign against the woman, identified only as Miss X.

They threatened to confront her traditional Islamic family – including her husband-to-be – with photographs of her in Western clothing with her arms around a man, and with a videotape of her dancing.

Ismaeli and mother-of-one Richards, both of Lye, West Midlands, admitted blackmail at Wolverhampton Crown Court and were jailed for 15 months and 12 months respectively.

Miss X’s potential shame was ‘the powerful weapon being used against her’, the court was told.

The photographs were taken during a day out to a seaside resort two years before with Ismaeli and Richards, who are now divorced.

Prosecutor Bernard Linnemann said: ‘Miss X received a letter on the doorstep of her father’s home with her name on the envelope.

‘Inside was a picture of her in Blackpool wearing western clothing. On the back, Miss Richards had written “If you don’t sort out the money you owe, more will come out”.’

The court heard how Richards formed the belief that Miss X was having an affair with her husband, while Ismaeli attacked her car, ripping off its wing mirror, and tried to unlock the door as she drove.

Gurdeep Garcha, defending Ismaeli, said the blackmail attempt was a short-lived and ‘amateurish’ operation, adding that his client deeply regretted what he had done.

Sam Powis, representing Richards, said the mother-of-one’s crime had been committed out of stupidity and anger but the photographs had not been taken with the intention of using them for blackmail.

Sentencing them, Judge Michael Challinor said: ‘The harm that has been done is very significant.’

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