A TERRIFIED dad was warned his children would be attacked with acid if he did not pay a mystery blackmailer £80,000.
The victim, whose family’s cars were damaged by a corrosive liquid during the blackmail plot, was ordered not to tell the police or even his wife about the terrifying demands.
He said he was left “physically shaking” by the menacing calls and threats and the “catastrophic effect” of his plight left him in fear for the safety of his entire family.
Ryan Lloyd, aka Griffin, admitted buying the mobile phone top-up cards used by the blackmailer to make the demands, but was too afraid to name the person he supplied them to.
Lloyd, 23, of Gayhurst Crescent, Sunderland, admitted aiding and abetting blackmail.
He was jailed for three years and three months for his part in the extortion plot and an unrelated assault he pleaded guilty to where he knocked a 16-year-old girl unconscious with a single kick.
Judge Simon Hickey said: “Clearly there is another man you are too frightened to name, and won’t name, who is operating above you. I accept there is someone else in the background who is unidentified.”
The court heard the victim was told the demand for money stemmed from a £38,000 loan he took out for his business, and partially paid back, before his firm collapsed in 2009.
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He tried to explain the loan had been to the business and not to him personally.
It was in December last year the cars came under attack and January this year he received the calls.
Prosecutor Bob Spragg told the court: “During the first call, the male said they had done his cars and chillingly he said if the money did not get paid, acid would be thrown over his kids.”
Similar threats and demands were made during a second call.
Mr Spragg said: “He describes himself physically shaking and in fear for the safety of himself and his family after he received that call.”
Robin Patton, defending, said Lloyd did not know what was being said during the calls or the impact they were having on the victim.
He said: “He did not know the rights and wrongs of this at all.”
Mr Patton said the person Lloyd gave the phone cards to was “menacing”.
Speaking after the case, Detective Sergeant Barbara McGough, from Northumbria Police’s crime department, who led the investigation, praised the victim for coming forward and telling police.
She said: “Blackmail is a very unusual offence but an extremely serious one.
“The amount of fear it can cause the victim, their family and friends can’t be underestimated.
“Although it may seem like a difficult decision, we would always urge victims of blackmail to come forward and report it to police.
“We will take action and, as today’s result shows, those who commit these crimes can face substantial punishment from the courts.”