A retired policeman has been jailed for three years for blackmailing a man by threatening to say he was a sexual predator who injured a woman.
Former detective Samual Balsdon, 58, admitted taking £10,000 in 2009 to pay for medical treatment for the woman and to pay off his overdraft.
Exeter Crown Court heard the woman had not been injured by the blackmail victim but had a medical condition.
The judge said Balsdon, from Halwell, Totnes, hounded an innocent man.
Balsdon pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one charge of blackmail carried out between 1 April 2009 and 17 December 2009.
He threatened to tell business associates of his victim that his violence caused the gynaecological injuries suffered by the female mutual acquaintance unless money was paid for her to receive private medical care.
After meeting his victim in a pub car park in Paignton, Balsdon emailed him with a list of people he planned to tell.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, then went to the police.
The woman was furious when she found out what Balsdon had done on her behalf, the court also heard.
The prosecution argued that while Balsdon may have intended to use some of the money for medical treatment, he intended to use some to pay off a £10,000 overdraft because of financial difficulties.
Malcolm Galloway, representing Balsdon, said his client had acted with "utter foolishness" but with the right intentions.
At the time the crime was committed, he and the woman believed the victim was responsible for her injuries and wanted him to help her financially to get swift medical help, Mr Galloway said.
He said: "He might have put two and two together and gotten five but he had justification for that."
Judge Philip Wassall told the former Devon and Cornwall Police officer that while he accepted he acted through a "genuine belief" that he was doing the right thing, he had hounded an innocent man, who he put through "sheer hell".
He said: "You had a blemish-free career in the police service and high standing in the community, which makes it equally inexplicable that you acted in the way that you did."
Det Insp Steve Parker, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said it was "a difficult and sensitive enquiry".