Melbourne man Timothy Ruge, who faced jail time over his extortion of a man on Grindr who had a fiancée, has instead been sentenced to community service.
Ruge was charged in May 2018 after he demanded $1300 in exchange for not outing the man he met on the dating and hook-up app.
Ruge told police in interviews that he was on a “crusade or something” to lower the divorce rate after his mental health deteriorated following the end of a long-term relationship in 2015.
He also told police he was homeless and using drugs at the time of the incident, having previously struggling with addiction while working as a performer in his twenties.
“He tries to paint himself as some type of moral guardian where he is blackmailing someone,’’ Judge Lisa Hannan said.
“You are properly described as at times exhibiting aggressive, at times threatening, and at other times taunting behaviour,” Hannan told Ruge.
“In my view it’s clear that your motivation was money and you saw a soft target, that is, a man who wished to keep his sexual preferences and activities confidential.”
Ruge had sent the man, whose identity is protected by a suppression order, an image of his fiancée alongside the text, “She’s pretty you cheating bastard.”
The victim went to the police after Ruge messaged him to say he would “take your girl, make her mine” if he didn’t pay a further $300, after they had already met at Southern Cross Station where the man paid $200 for Ruge delete the messages.
Hannan said that sentencing Ruge to jail could place his mental and physical health at risk, but she warned him that he was close to copping a prison sentence and that any further offence would be “like holding your hand up and saying ‘send me to jail'”.
Ruge will also have to undergo drug and mental health treatment as part of his sentence.