Wrexham brothers jailed for blackmailing pensioner

Published date: 20 January 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A PENSIONER was blackmailed into handing over thousands of pounds by two brothers.

The victim initially felt sorry for Ross Harden-Roberts who was homeless and down on his luck.

A court heard how he put him up, gave him lifts and gave him small amounts of money.

But Ross Harden-Roberts, 20, became a cocaine addict and ended up demanding cash and making threats.

His brother Cameron Harden-Roberts, 19, joined in.

At Mold Crown Court Ross, of Park View in Rossett and Cameron, of New Hall Road in Ruabon, were each sentenced to two years youth custody after they admitted a blackmail charge.

Judge Niclas Parry told them: “This is the kind of offence that, frankly, leads one to despair about the human race.”

They had preyed upon the kindness of a pensioner who “sought only to bring some generosity into the world.”

Even when threatened he expressed concern about their welfare.

But slowly and surely they saw an opportunity and blighted his life.

He was repeatedly threatened and received hundreds of text messages.

There had been a threat to petrol bomb his home, and to burn it with him inside it.
“You slowly bled him of his money,” the judge told them.

They demanded hundreds of pounds, they got at the very least £4,000 and possibly more.

Judge Parry said the victim became concerned for his own financial future and even his ability to keep his home or to run a car.

He became socially isolated and depressed.

Prosecuting barrister Mark Connor told how the victim ended up handing over regular amounts of money, which could have been as much as £7,000, between February and October of last year.

He had been introduced to Ross, a week later saw him clearly injured and bleeding to his face and he took him in temporarily, helped him, and gave him small amounts of money to help him get temporary accommodation.

His generosity extended to him giving him money so he could take his girlfriend out for meals.

He was handing over between £60 and £80 a week which he said was under some pressure but not duress initially.

The defendant would call or text asking for money, for lifts, and he was asked for £300 to join a gym and for money to take a trip to London to see his aunt.

It was not known whether those reasons were genuine and when asked for more money to go to London the victim offered to buy the ticket – and Ross admitted that he wanted the money to pay off debts.

Both brothers began demanding money, threats were made, Ross once produced a crow bar and the victim, a man in his 70s, was extremely scared.

He would drive to the ATM to get money for them, it affected his health, he suffered with his blood pressure and it left him frightened.

There were threats to petrol bomb his home and to burn it with him inside if he did not pay up.

The brothers and a third man went to his home on one occasion, demanded a lift to Ty Mawr Country Park, where he was taken to a quiet area and told they needed £600 quickly.

In fear he withdrew the money.

Demands continued and when he refused Ross told him he would “see his friends.”

The victim sought the help of a solicitor.

He wrote a letter and left it outside his home telling them that there would be no more money – and the brothers were filmed on CCTV reading it in July.

It said if any harm came to him then the lawyer knew precisely what had gone on.

But demands continued and Ross turned up with an unidentified large man wanting £2,000.

The victim ended up pushing some cash through the letter box.

From that point until October when they were arrested there were almost daily demands for cash.

Nicholas Williams, for Ross, said his client’s life had gone off the rails.

They were nasty and unpleasant offences.

His client had been homeless, was sofa-surfing, he became more and more addicted to cocaine and while at a low ebb was befriended by the victim.

To start with he was given small amounts of money for which he was very grateful but when he began spending £300 a week on cocaine he became more desperate.

He came under pressure to pay his drugs debt and Mr Williams said it “snowballed and got completely out of control.”

Ross had shown insight and remorse.

Henry Hills, for Cameron, said his client had been out of control for years and his offending was linked to the emotional disturbance he suffered as a result of family problems and violence he witnessed.

He turned to drugs, injected steroids but had shown remorse for what he had done.

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