A couple were covered in petrol and feared they would be set alight by attackers who turned up at their door over their son's alleged £50 debt.
The parents were confronted on their doorstep in Washington over claims their son owed £50, which had risen to over £100 as a result of "exorbitant" interest.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the mum and dad were both soaked in the flammable liquid, while one of their three attackers shouted "pay your debts" and "get me a match".
Neither of the victims were phsically hurt during the terrifying ordeal, but the woman told police: "I thought they were going to set us on fire."
The couple also feared they could end up stabbed as one of the men was carrying a sword during the confrontation last August.
Mark Baird, 25, Scott Renny, 27, and Steven Adams, 32, all admitted administering poison or other noxious thing.
Judge Robert Adams said if the petrol had been ignited the result would have been "catastrophic".
The judge told the men: "It was an extremely dangerous thing to do.
"For those who had the petrol thrown on them, they would not have known whether you had any means by which you could light it, for them it must have been absolutely terrifying."
The judge said the attack was "very, very dangerous indeed" and that deterrent sentences must result.
He added: "No injury, in fact, was caused. It is terror that is important and the risk of injury, which is extreme here."
Renny, of Kielder, Oxclose, Washington, was jailed for 14 months. He had also admitted a public order offence committed earlier that day.
Adams, of Rowan Avenue, Harraton, Washington, was jailed for 12 months.
Baird, of Ambleside Court, Durham, who also admitted theft of the petrol and was the one who actually threw it, will be sentenced next week.
Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told the court it was Renny who claimed he was owed the money from the victims' son.
He said: "It would appear he had borrowed £50 from Scott Renny.
"Renny was trying to charge exorbitant rate of interest.
"At one point he was wold he owed in excess of £100.
"That seems to be the background to this."
Mr Guiliani said it was Baird who actually threw the petrol, that he was carrying in a red can he had stolen from a van earlier, but that it was a joint enterprise attack.
The court heard it was the male victim who was soaked first, followed by his wife, who had came out of their home, in Washington, to see what was going on.
Tony Davis, defending, said Renny, who has a job and stable family life, bitterly regrets what happened.
Mr Davis added: "Not one of them had the means to ignite any petrol."
Glen Gatland, also defending, said Adams was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and that the row had nothing to do with him.
Mr Gatland said Adams was "extremely" drunk that day but has now made substantial progress and has a job and steady home life.