A TEENAGER who blackmailed a family friend for almost £400 has been jailed for 12 months.

Mitchell Iason pestered vulnerable Donald Robinson for cash, often waylaying him for money as he either went to or returned from hospital where his mother was seriously ill, a court heard.

However, he eventually “crossed the line” by demanding money.

Prosecutor Simon Foster said Iason, 18, even called at Mr Robinson’s Southampton home wanting cash at 10.45pm one night.

The victim became so exasperated he called in the police who issued a warning to Iason. However, it did not let up. On one occasion, he backed up a demand by threatening: “You have no idea what I could make up about you.”

The court heard Mr Robinson thought he had handed over more than £1,000 in sums as little as £7 and as much as £100 before Iason was arrested.

When questioned, the teenager said he sometimes felt sorry for Mr Robinson. He claimed he had been willing to give him money and he hadn’t turned it down, but eventually accepted what he had done had amounted to demands for money.

In a statement, the victim said he felt he had been taken for a ride and left demoralised. He said he could have used the money in better ways and still felt nervous going into the street.

Iason, of Alma Road, Southampton, admitted blackmail. In addition to the jail term, he was also banned from contacting Mr Robinson and entering the street where he lives for five years.

Recorder Jonathan Swift said: “Blackmail is an ugly and vicious crime and there are a number of aggravating factors in your case.

“The victim was a family friend and had helped you in earlier days by giving you money. He was vulnerable and targeted.”

In mitigation, James Newton-Price said Iason was remorseful and ashamed.