A blackmailer who left his victim 'exhausted and on medication' has been jailed for two years.

Lewis James Needham, aged 26, of Selwyn Close, Weymouth, admitted an attempt to extort £5,000 from his victim.

A court heard Needham had threatened to send compromising pictures to the victim's family if he didn't pay.

Prosecutor Edward Phillips revealed that in March this year, the complainant had attended an event at the Pavilion theatre with his daughter.

As he drove back home, he received a text message reading: "If I were you, I'd get out and open the present on the windscreen."

Upon arrival at his home, the 63-year-old victim noticed a greetings card tucked under the vehicle's windscreen wiper.

The card told the victim he was being watched, and that he should comply with any demands made. He also noticed that a green petrol can had been placed near to the car.

Further text messages warned the victim that the two sides were 'getting off on the wrong foot', before demanding money against a threat of exposure of embarrassing photographs.

"£5k or we send your wife and kids these photos," one text read, referring to images of the victim with prostitutes and smoking crack cocaine.

"We've got photos of you with working girls smoking crack," another text read.

Mr Phillips explained the victim had a sleepless night, terrified by the messages, before alerting the police the next morning.

Working with officers, the victim arranged with the blackmailer to place some hundreds of pounds in cash in an envelope, which was then left in a bin on a Weymouth street. The serial numbers of the notes were recorded.

Officers assigned to monitor the bin subsequently observed a man withdraw the envelope, but were unable to follow him, though his appearance was logged.

An image of the victim with a crack pipe was then left at a nearby bus stop to collect.

Later that same day, one of the officers who had observed the removal of the extorted cash went to a fish and chip shop in the Littlemoor area, where he noticed Needham, wearing the same clothes as earlier. The officer arrested Needham on the spot.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Needham had earlier that day paid for a taxi using one of the recorded £10 notes. Faced with this evidence, he pleaded guilty to one count of blackmail.

The prosecutor noted that the ordeal had left the victim and his wife 'exhausted, anxious and on medication'.

Mitigating, Lee Christmas stated that Needham had pleaded guilty at the first possible opportunity, and that he had been forced into the blackmail by his addiction to drugs.

"He owes money to drug dealers, who pressured him into doing this," Mr Christmas said, adding that his client was engaging with services and wanted to end his drug addiction. "He wants to lead a law-abiding lifestyle," he said.

Sentencing Needham to two years behind bars at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Brian Forster QC noted that the severity of the blackmail was lessened by its relative brevity, lasting in full only from 11.30pm until the next morning, when the money and photograph were exchanged.

But he stressed the crime was a serious one.

"This crime has had a major impact on the victim," the judge said. "It is important that the public know the courts have always taken a very serious view of blackmail, and continue to do so."