A MAN made a series of threatening phone calls and text messages while seeking repayment of a loan - with “added” interest, a court heard.
David Railton was today jailed for three-and-a-half years for the campaign of intimidation, which extended from the man who owed him the money, to his pregnant girlfriend and her mother, when she tried to intervene.
Durham Crown Court heard that it took place in August last year, several months after the victim borrowed £90 from Railton, who gave him “a couple of weeks” to make the repayment.
John Gillette, prosecuting, said as he was a day late repaying, the debt doubled to £180, which he duly paid.
Mr Gillette said Railton gave the man a contact number, which was entered into the memory on his phone.
He took out a further loan with Railton, in August, but having asked for £300 he was given £380 via a go-between.
Mr Gillette said when he failed to meet the fortnight repayment deadline he was told the outstanding amount had risen to £1,200 and he began receiving increasingly threatening text messages.
“It escalated to threats of violence, threats to his family of violence, and threats his house would be burned down, killing all his family.”
Mr Gillette said the victim turned off his phone but his eight-month pregnant girlfriend then received a threatening call.
When she became distressed her mother rang Railton, but her approach was also met with threats.
It was reported to police and Railton was arrested, but he denied responsibility.
The 24-year-old, of Cookson Place, South Stanley, denied a charge of blackmail, for making demands with menaces.
He told the court he did not know the victim and had not spoken to him, but he could not explain how his phone number was on the man’s mobile memory.
A jury returned a ‘guilty’ verdict by a majority of 11-1 on the third day of the trial, today (Friday February 22).
The court heard Railton has a number of offences of violence on his record.
Stephen Duffield, mitigating, told the court: “Mr Railton has had a trial and we must accept the jury’s verdict.
“This offending was persisted with, but only for a short period of time.
“He, of course, knows it’s a form of debt collecting the criminal law won’t tolerate.”
Jailing him, Judge Penny Moreland told Railton he had “terrified” the victim and his family.
“Your previous convictions, no doubt, gave you a reputation to enable you to commit these offences,” she added.
Judge Moreland also made an unlimited restraining order preventing Railton contacting any of the three people he threatened.