A PENSIONER who told police he was trying to sound ‘gangsterish’ when he blackmailed a property developer for £100,000 has been jailed.
Michael Sutton sent a letter to Robert Hogg at his Bedhampton home demanding he call ‘urgently’ within a half-hour window on October 20 last year.
Mr Hogg – who has suffered a spate of vandalism and threatening calls over the past five years – told police and then called the number given.
Martyn Booth, prosecuting, told the Portsmouth Crown Court that Mr Hogg owed cash to former business partners, which had been claimed through civil courts, after a problem with a development in Suffolk. There is no suggestion it is linked.
In the terrifying phone call, the blackmailer, later revealed to be Sutton, said: ‘Instead of paying your solicitor you should pay the people who are owed... if you don’t, it’s going on to another stage.’
He added: ‘If the money ain’t paid it goes to another step we’re not involved in.
He was talking about £100,000 – you can get knee-capped or bullets for less than thatVictim Robert Hogg
‘It goes to different people and they’re not people you want to be dealing with.’
He added: ‘We don’t care about police. We’ve been dealing with this for years, you ain’t going to put them off, you ain’t going to put me off.’
After the 15-minute call police tracked down Sutton, of Fratton Road, Portsmouth, to a car where they found him and draft versions of the letter he sent.
Mr Booth added Mr Hogg, 62, thought the demands were serious. In a police interview, Sutton said he worded his letter to sound ‘gangsterish’ and masked his voice on the phone.
Speaking to The News Mr Hogg said: ‘I didn’t know who it was and obviously he was talking about vast amounts of money – it wasn’t some druggy after a quick fix.
‘He was talking about £100,000 – you can get knee-capped or bullets for less than that. I was just a businessman struggling to get through.
‘I’m just trying to get on with life and some idiot messes with your brain. I felt more vulnerable for my wife. We looked over our shoulders and had to make ourselves aware of what’s going on.’
Barry McElduff, defending Sutton, said it was an ‘unsophisticated’ blackmail and his client did not know he was committing an offence.
Sutton admitted blackmail but pleaded not guilty to a previous charge of conspiracy to blackmail. This was accepted by prosecutors.
Jailing him for two years at Portsmouth Crown Court, judge Linda Sullivan QC said: ‘You were threatening this man to extort money from him which you had no rightful cause to do.’
She added: ‘This case is so reprehensible in my judgement that nothing less than an immediate term of imprisonment will do.’
The court heard in the past five years Mr Hogg has suffered a number of incidents, including have his bedroom window smashed and paint thrown over his car.
Sutton, 66, was not being held responsible for these, the court heard. Mr Hogg had to install toughened glass and CCTV at home due to the attacks.