A MAN who claimed he was just trying to unmask a paedophile faces jail after a jury found him guilty of blackmail.

Taylor Edwards was accused of storming his victim’s house last April together with friend Younis Sharif, demanding the man hand over £5,000 or they would tell his employer he enjoyed smoking crack cocaine with prostitutes.

On Wednesday, a Swindon jury took little more than four hours to find the 24-year-old, of Sanders Close, guilty of blackmail. Jurors could not reacch a verdict on accusations Edwards had robbed his victim of watches and a sword.

The case can now be reported after Judge Jason Taylor QC lifted an order banning reporting of the verdict until the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed they would not seek a retrial on the robbery charge.

Swindon Crown Court heard Edwards had met prostitute Kerri-Anne Mclean in early 2019 after she asked for a lift to a petrol station in return for paying his fuel bill, which she paid with another’s bank card. It was from her that Edwards and Sharif learned that one of her clients, a man in his 60s, was wealthy. She described him as her sugar daddy.

On April 26 they were said to have burst into his home. Giving evidence, the victim said he was struck by the men – who were both wearing red tops and who he initially thought were charity workers. One of the men demanded to know where the safe was. The victim denied having any cash in the house, offering his vinyl collection or to get cash from the bank. Edwards was accused of ransacking rooms upstairs, allegedly making off with watches and an imitation broadsword. No sword was seen by an eyewitness who spotted the men leave.

Edwards claimed he had been told the man had a stash of indecent images of children and had gone to the house to confront him about it. He told jurors the house was in a poor state, with girls’ underwear, sex toys and vile abuse images in the man’s bedroom. The man was alleged to have offered Edwards and Sharif money to keep his secret.

The man called the police later that evening and told detectives he had been robbed and blackmailed.

Three days later Edwards used a friend’s phone to make the ransom call. He was surprised when his victim said £2,000 had been left in a salt grit bin near the Holiday Inn, off junction 16. Edwards went on to ask about other payments.

Later that day, plain clothes officers watched as Edwards pulled up in his girlfriend’s cream Mini and sent out a 16-year-old boy to fetch the cash. Edwards tried to flee when police swooped.

Nicholas Fridd, prosecuting, said it was a classic case of a man working with a prostitute to “roll” her client.

He said of the defendant: “He wasn’t outing a paedophile, he was bullying a lonely man who used drugs, who had a good job and would be able to pay for his silence.”

Mr Fridd added: “Mr Edwards takes the risk that he’s not going to say anything because he does use prostitutes, because he does use drugs, so he’s safe.

“But this lonely only man did decide to talk it to the police.”

Judge Taylor QC remanded Edwards in custody. He told barrister Chris Smyth: “You know and I am sure he knows how seriously blackmail is viewed.” Edwards and Sharif, who pleaded guilty to robbery and blackmail last October, will be sentenced on February 11.