Hamilton man blackmailed, published sex videos of woman wearing blindfold

2 min read

Tuhewa Earl Downs was jailed on charges of blackmail, making and publishing an online recording and threatening to kill. Photo / 123rf

A man secretly recorded having sex with a blindfolded woman – then threatened to ruin her reputation by posting the footage online if she didn’t pay up.

Initially, the woman complied but after giving Tuhewa Earl Downs nearly $4000 in 91 different payments she refused to hand over any more.

So the 30-year-old followed through with his threat and posted three sex videos on a group with around 50,000 followers.

Downs had earlier been banned by the court from contacting the woman after being released on bail for threatening to kill her on two occasions. But Downs didn’t let that stop him.


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Just months later, he began harassing her through texts, phone calls, and social media.

The woman tried to block him on the various platforms, but he would just get a new number, or create new accounts.

By the end of 2021, Downs’ changed tack.

He told her he would ruin her reputation and that of her business if she didn’t pay him every time he requested money from her.


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She had no idea he’d filmed her, but continued to pay him for several months.

While they were initially general threats, in early April 2022, Downs revealed he had made videos of the pair having sex – with her wearing a blindfold – and he would post them online, naming her and her business.

She eventually stopped paying him but when Downs noticed he went through with his threats the next day and posted the videos online.

Within minutes of them being posted, the woman received multiple messages from concerned strangers and friends.

Downs told her he would only take it down if she paid him $70.

He continued posting videos, including some of her sleeping, then deleting them for a couple more days.

In total, the woman paid Downs $3866.09 across 91 transactions, into his brother’s bank account.

Downs appeared in the Hamilton District Court this week for sentencing on charges of blackmail, making and publishing an intimate recording, and two charges of threatening to kill.

Judge Philip Crayton noted a theme of victim-blaming had emerged from the various reports prepared for sentencing.

“That really does concern me because there can be no doubt that Mr Downs’ position, where he is, and these charges are nobody’s fault but himself.”


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But his lawyer, Rosalind Brown, submitted that his remorse letter offered insight into his behaviour.

She believed the blackmail charge emerged from his inability to “emotionally regulate” and his lack of boundaries.

She said he felt the woman didn’t think he would go through with it, so he did it to prove her wrong.

He had also offered $2070 in cash to immediately put towards reparation, and his brother had a job ready for him once he was out of prison.

Judge Crayton said the consequences of his behaviour were “very long-term and extremely harmful”.

“At no stage did the victim do anything that could possibly have contributed to your violence, your behaviour against her.


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“That was, and remains, utterly at your door.”

Downs was jailed for two years and 10 months and ordered to pay the remainder of the reparation.

Belinda Feek has been a reporter for 19 years, and at the Herald for eight years before joining the Open Justice team in 2021.

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