A desperate man was blackmailed into becoming a drug dealer when loan sharks demanded £27,000 after he borrowed just £2,000.
Ryan Craggs was sent torture threats, warned that his wife would have acid thrown in her face, while his son was actually attacked.
During the terror campaign, where the lenders demanded more and more money, the family’s horse had its throat cut.
Loan sharks would turn up and take vehicles belonging to the family, which they said would reduce but still not settle the enormous debt.
Newcastle Crown Court heard, with the interest rate rising every day, Craggs, of Avon Crescent, Fence Houses, agreed to sell drugs in return for the debt being wiped out.
The 36-year-old was caught by the police in August last year with 48 wraps of crack cocaine hidden behind the ashtray compartment in his car while driving along Front Street in Fence Houses.
He confessed he had been selling £20 deals to customers for about three weeks.
Craggs pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and would usually have faced years behind bars.
But Judge Paul Sloan QC told him:
“Unusually, and I state this in open court, there is independent evidence to corroborate much of what is said. This is clearly an unusual case.”
The judge sentenced him to 16 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 120 hours’ unpaid work.
The judge told Craggs:
“I accept the circumstances and that you are thoroughly ashamed of your involvement.
“Unusually, most of your basis of plea was not disputed.”
The court heard Craggs had borrowed £2,000 at a time when he was unemployed and needed help to support his family.
He paid back £3,200 after being forced to sell his quad bike, but was told he still needed to pay more.
The situation turned nasty when he was unable to meet the payment demands.
Reading from his basis of plea, prosecutor Bridie Smurthwaite said:
“Threats were made to his daughter’s horse, which had its throat cut.
“There was also threats to his wife’s horse and his mother’s horse.
“A quad bike was taken and he was told one thousand pounds would be deducted from what he owed for that. He was also told if he didn’t get the money, his son would ‘get it’.
“His son was attacked, pulled off his scooter, his helmet pulled off and assaulted.
“At one point, he was told he owed £27,000. He was then told if he didn’t pay the money back, he would have to work for the lender.”
The court heard Craggs was pressured to work as a driver for the criminal gang in the summer of last year.
Miss Smurthwaite added:
“He did so because of what had previously happened.
“He and his wife were repeatedly subjected to threats to torture them, threatened there would be acid poured in his wife’s face.”
The court heard the lenders took Mrs Craggs’s car from her, which they said would reduce the mounting debt.
The worried dad agreed to the demands he should start dealing in the hope that he could finally free himself from the lenders.
He told detectives he had been selling £20 deals and had made about £10,000 for the lenders in the three weeks he was dealing.
Miss Smurthwaite said:
“He would not have supplied drugs but for the threats that were made and the intimidation he was subjected to.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Oct 2014
A vicious loan shark who threatened to break a terrified woman’s legs and cracked a man over the head with a police baton has been taken off the streets.
Waiter turned illegal money lender Joaquim Lara Alves Boal charged vulnerable people “extortionate” interest rates and turned nasty when debtors struggled to keep up repayments.
The 52-year-old was jailed for 28 months at Teesside Crown Court yesterday after his two-year reign of terror was brought to an end.
The court heard how Boal had made 34 loans to customers in Hartlepool totalling £7,000 and he expected to see a return of £10,000 by charging borrowers 20 to 25 per cent interest per £100.
But when one woman who had borrowed £600 struggled to keep up repayments, Boal threatened to smash her windows.
“She continued to pay him through fear,” prosecuting barrister Simon Mortimer said.
And due to Boal’s inept record keeping the woman ended up paying back twice what she had borrowed.
When another woman, who borrowed £700 from Boal, asked to see records of what she had paid back, Boal was unable to produce them.
He later approached her at Hartlepool Marina and produced a metal extended police baton and wanted her mobile phone as security.
Boal started to walk away, but turned round and said: “If you don’t pay, this is what will happen,” before slamming the baton against the railings.
“The victim was hysterical and very frightened,” said Mr Mortimer.
A third victim told investigators how Boal tried to crack him over the head with the weapon in Morrisons supermarket. He missed but struck the victim on the elbow.
Earlier, Boal had gone round to his house and began ranting and raving about money he said he was owed.
When the man would not go to the door Boal broke the window with the baton.
After the attack in Morrisons, police searched Boal’s Lancaster Road home and seized a notebook detailing some of his loans.
A second notebook referred to by witnesses was not found so the true extent of Boal’s lending is unknown.
The business had about 20 customers and had been operating for around two years.
Boal, who was born in Angola and came to the UK in 1990, told police threatened to break one of the female victim’s legs “to show he was serious”.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal money lending, one of money laundering, two of blackmail, actual bodily harm and criminal damage.
Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Boal, who had no previous convictions, had fallen into illegal money lending after loaning colleagues cash as a favour.
He said: “He completely overstepped the mark.”
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said: “Anybody who borrows money from loan sharks in the street is a vulnerable individual and these were vulnerable because they had no other recourse other than to go to people like you.
“Twenty per cent interest is an extortionate rate.
“You embarked upon a course of conduct which was threatening, threatening violence, intimidatory and bullying.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 21 Aug 2014