Sarah Heathcote has pleaded guilty to attempted extortion.
Sarah Heathcote has pleaded guilty to attempted extortion.

Woman attempted to blackmail ex with revenge porn

A TEACHER at a prestigious NSW private school, who pleaded guilty to attempting to extort $20,000 from a former lover, says there is more to the story despite the guilty plea.

Sarah Heathcote, a teacher from St Mary Star of the Sea on the south coast, was visibly distressed when she spoke to news.com.au explaining how the married man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, "had her under his spell" for years.

In 2008, Ms Heathcote, now 43, met the man at a popular city nightclub but it wasn't until October 2015 - when she was moving out of her family home and finalising her divorce - that she claims they struck up an intimate relationship.

The pair were together, on and off, for around two years until they stopped seeing each other in late 2017.

The man has two children and is still married to his wife.

According to court documents, Ms Heathcote asked for $20,000 to pay for the sex toys and lingerie she'd bought during their two-year relationship.

In a police interview after her arrest, Ms Heathcote said she'd bought them "in an attempt to impress him and to continue their relationship".

On February 10, Ms Heathcote emailed her former partner at work telling him if he didn't transfer the $20,000 she was owed by February 19, she would send their explicit photos and videos, the sex toys and lingerie to his wife at the school she works at.

Photos attached to the email included the pair engaged in sex acts. The man immediately called the police and told them about the email.

Three days later Ms Heathcote was teaching at the all girls school when detectives showed up and she was arrested.

In 2017, less than six months apart, Sarah's mother and sister died from cancer.

She said those two tragic events had made her more vulnerable than she's been in her life - explaining that was why she stayed in the relationship.

"He had a hold over me. I was vulnerable, everyone around me was dying. My dad only died a few years ago, then my sister and my mum dying. I believed everything he said," she said.

Through tears, Sarah spoke about the "broken promises" and how he had proposed to her twice, promising her mum that they were going to get married.

"We planned a wedding and he lied all year, he was promising, promising, that we would be married," she said.

Sarah said she had previously tried to call the man's wife and explain to her what was going on but she wouldn't believe her.

But Sarah said she has dozens of emails and text messages detailing the love they had for one another in their relationship.

"It says it all, 'I promise you we'll be together, I can't wait to live with you, I can't wait to start our lives together'," Sarah claims he wrote.

"There was millions of texts in there. There was always another reason why we had to keep waiting."

Sarah was in a relationship with her former partner for two years.
Sarah was in a relationship with her former partner for two years.

Late last year the pair stopped seeing each other.

According to court documents, the man claims it was "normal practice" for him and Sarah to stop communicating around Christmas time as it would allow them to spend respective time with their families.

Sarah, who started living on her own in 2015, claims that wasn't true as she had her own place.

And in terms of the $20,000 Sarah demanded, she said the email she sent on February 13 wasn't the first time they'd discussed the money.

When asked about her guilty plea, she said, "obviously I sent that email".

"I did send that, but there's a lot of other things that haven't been reported. I wasn't demanding the money, it was money we'd agreed on," she said.

"I kept paying for the things during our relationship and we were going to be married but if not he was going to pay back the money he owed me. That was all it was, it wasn't out of nowhere."

After the email, police tried to get the man to meet up with Sarah, getting him to repeatedly call her from his phone.

But Sarah said that after a few months of them not being together, she'd finally realised the "hold" he'd had over her.

"It takes a while for when you come out of it to see and remember what reality was," she said.

Sarah then said she asked him to leave the money in her mailbox, rather than meet in person.

"I kept saying, 'I never want to see you again. If you want, just put the money in my post box'," she said.

Admitting she has "no idea" what's going to happen to her teaching job, Sarah said she made the decision to tell her story because her name was "already mud".

Sarah is currently on leave.

On Tuesday, Sarah's lawyer pleaded guilty on her behalf to both charges - demand with menace $20,000 from the victim with intent to gain financially and cause financial loss and threaten to distribute intimate images without consent, domestic violence related.

Detectives who arrested and interviewed Sarah were unable to comment.

 

 

 

Sarah was in a relationship with her former partner for two years.
Sarah was in a relationship with her former partner for two years.


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