A MAN who denies blackmailing another for thousands of pounds told a jury he was trying to unmask a paedophile.

Taylor Edwards is on trial at Swindon Crown Court for robbery and blackmail. Prosecutors claim he and another stormed their alleged victim’s house in April, stole watches and a sword and threatened to tell his employer’s he smoked crack cocaine with a prostitute unless he hand over £2,000 within days and a further £3,000 in following weeks.

Put in the dock yesterday afternoon, 24-year-old Edwards stuck to his story. He had been told by the sex worker, who he met in Broadgreen a few weeks before after she asked for a lift, her “sugar daddy” had a stash of indecent images of children.

Edwards had been especially shocked by the claims, as a family member had been abused as a child.

Together with a friend, he had driven around the complainant’s neighbourhood on a number of occasions trying to find the man’s house.

On the evening of April 26, the pair had knocked on the man’s door having seen his distinctive car parked outside.

In the witness box the alleged victim claimed Edwards and his associate had barged in and hit him in the head before ransacking the house.

But Edwards claimed the man could not get them off the street quick enough after they said a sex worker had “told them things” about him.

He said he had spotted a website hosting child sex abuse images open on the man’s computer, with more abuse pictures elsewhere in the house. Edwards commented on the state of the bedroom: “There was girls’ underwear everywhere, it smelled disgusting, there were sex toys everywhere. It was horrible.”

Edwards claimed the man had offered him four watches, including two Rolexes. He had initially turned down the offer but the man put the expensive jewellery pieces into his pocket. The man had offered them £5,000 cash, Edwards said.

The man called police later that evening to report he had been robbed and blackmailed. Edwards claimed photographs of the house taken the next morning by police crime scene investigators did not match what he had seen, suggesting the house had been cleaned up.

A couple of days later, Edwards called the complainant on another man’s phone – he said because he had been reading the former’s mobile number from a picture taken on his mobile. The first minute and a half of the conversation could not be recorded by police, as they had not been expecting the call for another two hours.

He said that meant references to the man’s alleged indecent image stash had not been recorded. Instead, in the recording played to jurors Edwards was heard telling the complainant not to play games and lying about being in London.

Later that afternoon, police tracked Edwards’ girlfriend’s cream-coloured Mini to the Holiday Inn, near junction 16, where a £2,000 ransom had been left in a yellow grit bin. A 16-year-old boy was seen taking the black bag containing the cash from the bin. The boy was taken to the floor by police officers and Edwards fled the scene but was caught within minutes. He said he ran because did not know the plain clothes officers were policemen.

The four watches were found in the Mini’s glove box. Edwards said he planned to return them.

Edwards gave a no comment interview upon the advice of his lawyer. His solicitor had drafted a statement saying he and his friend had found indecent images in the house and they had not gone their intending to rob him, but this was not read to police.

Prosecutors say Edwards had gone to the man’s home to try and extort money, having heard he smoked crack cocaine with a prostitute.

Nicholas Fridd, prosecuting, said: “What you’re doing here is try and rubbish this man with a tale that makes him look bad and you’ve achieved exactly what you set out to do, haven’t you, which is get some money – except you were intercepted.”

Edwards, of Sanders Close, Stratton, denies robbery and blackmail. The trial continues.