A THUG who threatened to chop a man’s hands and feet off has been jailed.
Tony Larbey threatened the mechanic because he claimed he owed British Superbike rider Michael Howarth £23,000 in a row over a bike.
As Larbey is locked up for four years, the victim told The News of the terror he and his family have gone through.
The garage owner – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has been forced to move house, install CCTV at his home and work and buy a guard dog.
He said: ‘It’s gone on for a year and it’s been awful.
‘We just don’t do anything. I don’t go out and don’t do anything because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.’
In the run-up to the trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, the victim says he had a number of calls and visits from strangers telling him not to go to court.
The married father-of-two said: ‘Because of the threats and all the other things that were going on with people coming round it was just ridiculous.
‘You are always worried about the kids coming home from school and going out.
‘We had to tell the children because they had to be more aware of things as they were going around.’
Larbey, 41, of Boleyn Drive, Bognor Regis, who has a list of previous convictions for violence, went to the victim’s home and work in July and September last year and said he would cut off his hands and feet if he didn’t pay up.
The mechanic said: ‘I had absolutely no doubt the threats were credible but I was determined to go to court.
‘I had to stand up and do something or pay someone money I didn’t owe.
‘All the way up to the trial I was just thankful for the help of Hampshire Constabulary. They have been fantastic and I can’t thank them enough. Every time there has been an issue with people coming to the house we have had an armed response.’
Larbey, who worked as a Southern Water subcontractor, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of blackmail.
Superbike rider Howarth, 33, from Manchester, told the court he had not asked anyone to threaten the mechanic and he did not face any charges.
The mechanic said: ‘It hasn’t really sunk in that he is in prison. We are still on edge, we’re still not comfortable. Every time there’s a knock on the door we check the camera before we answer. This is not something I ever want to go through again.’
Detective Constable Mel Sinclair said: ‘I’m pleased with the result. Considering the circumstances of the offence and the intimidation I would like to thank the aggrieved for being strong and supporting the prosecution.’