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Man who faked own kidnap and demanded £10k from friends is jailed
8 September 2021, 14:17 | Updated: 8 September 2021, 15:15
A man has been jailed after staging his own kidnap to con his friends into handing over thousands of pounds - only to be caught by detectives because of his spelling.
Christopher Sellman, 23, fooled his victims into thinking he was being held for ransom and that his life was in danger.
However, he was caught out when detectives noticed his text messages had the same spelling and grammar mistakes as his supposed captors, similar to the Line of Duty storyline.
He has been jailed for two years and four months.
On February 15 this year, both victims received messages from an unrecognised phone number which contained a photograph of Sellman with a razor blade being held to his throat.
The message appeared to be from someone who had kidnapped Sellman and said he would only be released if the victims paid money into a bank account.
The concerned victims paid the money, and the following day received more messages demanding money. They again helped Sellman.
The demands continued throughout the month, including on February 24 when the victims received a photo of Sellman with a gun in his mouth. They paid £1,000 in response.
On March 15 another set of messages arrived. When the victims responded saying they had no more money, they were threatened with violence and told the "kidnappers" knew where they lived, prompting them to call the police.
More messages were sent, including photos of the defendant with a crossbow to his face, a razor blade to the back of his head and a video in which someone could be seen repeatedly forcing his head underwater.
During the ordeal the victims changed their phone numbers, but began to get email and social media messages. In total they paid about £10,000.
After similarities were found between messages sent by Sellman and those of the kidnappers, officers attended Sellman’s former home where he was arrested on suspicion of blackmail on March 24.
Weapons matching those seen in the photos, as well as mobile phones containing the threatening messages, were found.
Sellman, from Ashford, Kent, and his former partner Stephanie Gibb were both charged with blackmail offences.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court.
Gibb, 28, received an 18-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, after she admitted her part in the plot.
Investigating officer PC Edward Pegg said: "Sellman showed an appalling abuse of trust for those who care about him, faking his own kidnap and torture for money to spend on sports clothing and takeaways.
"The victims were terrified of the consequences if they didn’t pay, their only concern being to protect Sellman."