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Debt Collection By Threat Brings Prosecution

When a creditor appointed two 'informal' debt collectors to collect money due from a debtor, the tactics they used resulted in them being given prison terms by the Court of Appeal.

A landscape gardener was beset by financial problems and one of his companies had been placed in liquidation. Two men who were acquainted with one of his creditors turned up at his office demanding payment of £8,000. One of them leaned over the gardener's desk and threatened him with violence if he did not pay. He was reduced to tears as the other man produced a truncheon which he tapped on his desk.

The two men were subsequently sentenced to suspended terms of imprisonment after pleading guilty to blackmail. However, in referring the case for review by the Court, the Solicitor General argued that their sentences were unduly lenient. He pointed out that, after the gardener parted with the money, it was used to pay off one of the men's credit card bills, rather than to satisfy his creditor.

In upholding the Solicitor General's application, the Court noted that menaces had been made and a weapon shown. It was a bad case of its kind and akin to robbery. The Court replaced the men's suspended sentences with immediate prison terms of three years and four months and two years and ten months.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.