A MAN was told his house would be bombed unless he handed over £3,700.
He was told he would be killed and his family hurt. The victim was so concerned he moved his family to live 70-miles away.
Michael Terence Roberts, 32, of Allt Celyn in Flint, who originally faced a harassment charge but later admitted blackmail, was jailed for 18 months.
Judge Peter Heywood said the blackmail ran between May and July of last year.
The judge said that complainant Paul Fowler of Buckley had been in a business relationship with Russell White in a flooring franchise and they worked together for many years until the relationship broke down.
Roberts was in Mr White’s employment. Mr White claimed Mr Fowler owed him £3,700 which was disputed and the matter was properly dealt with through solicitors.
For some reason, it may be that he wanted to impress his employer, Roberts became involved, the judge said.
Mr White sent Mr Fowler a letter in June through the proper channels.
But one morning in May, Roberts went to Mr Fowler’s home and threatened to smash up his home and that he would be killed unless the money was paid.
Mr Fowler said no money was owed but Roberts was not prepared to leave it there and later sent Mr Fowler a number of text messages claiming that enforcement of “the debt” had been handed to others in Liverpool.
Roberts said he should get the money that day and call when it was ready.
A few days later he attended Mr Fowler’s home with a second man.
Mr Fowler spoke through the window and was now told he now owed £5,000.
“You wanted something out of it yourself now,” the judge said.
It was then that a very serious threat to bomb the house and kill him and hurt his family was made.
The family moved out temporarily and he put in CCTV at his home and at work.
The judge said blackmail was a vicious and ugly crime which demanded severe sentences but Roberts had pleaded guilty, he was to some extent the “fall guy” for others, and was a hard working man.
The judge expressed surprise that others said to be involved were not in the dock.
They could all have been charged with conspiracy, he said.
Prosecutor David Mainstone said the issue over the £3,700 was dealt with via legal channels in 2007 and Mr Fowler who disputed that he owed any money.
During the first visit, the victim was told people from Norris Green would smash up his house and kill him if he didn’t pay.
On the second, Roberts was joined by Lee Andrew Sorrentino and Mr Fowler was told he would be killed, his house bombed or blown up, and his family hurt.
Oliver King, defending, said his client regretted going to work for Mr White and his energy company in Mold.
He had been told about the alleged debt but should not have got involved.
No violence or weapons were used to re-enforce the threat and no attempt had been made to get into the house.
The defendant was a hard working family man with two jobs, a partner and two sons to support. He helped run a gym in Hoylake.
Roberts appeared to be the fall guy for others who had walked away scot free, said Mr King.
l At an earlier hearing, co-defendant Lee Andrew Sorrentino, 30, of Kingsbury Close in Flint, was originally charged with making a threat to kill.
That was changed to blackmail, which he denied, and the prosecution offered no evidence against him.
At the previous hearing, a third man, Russell White, 46, of Oakenholt Lane in Flint, was charged with harassing Mr Fowler but the prosecution formally offered no evidence against him.
Both were formally found not guilty.