Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jail for 'Gangster' Duo Who Stripped OAP of Life Savings

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jail for 'Gangster' Duo Who Stripped OAP of Life Savings

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Lightfoot Court Reporter gareth.lightfoot@eveninggazette.co.uk

TWO bullies who terrorised and blackmailed a vulnerable 67-year-old man, stripping him of his life savings, are in prison for more than six years.

Jamie Longstaff and Christopher Ryan intimidated the victim for weeks and took him to the bank to get money for them.

The pensioner said they "acted like gangsters" towards him and he feared "fisticuffs" if he didn't hand over the cash, Teesside Crown Court heard. His account went from more than PS1,000 in credit to zero in just three weeks, said prosecutor Harry Hadfield yesterday.

Judge Peter Benson told the two men: "You both should be bitterly ashamed of your conduct.

"You treated this gentleman, who because of his age was worthy of your respect, in a wicked and ruthless way, without any compassion.

"You decided you could take advantage of his vulnerability by milking his bank account of essentially his life savings." They plundered about PS4,100 from the man who had lived in his rented Middlesbrough home for 30 years.

Longstaff, 24, and Ryan, 36, started putting pressure on him after Ryan moved into the same multi-occupancy home. They took him to the bank to make withdrawals - at opening time, in some cases - and stole money from his account at ATMs.

They were spotted with the pensioner at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch on Albert Road on October 22 last year. He withdrew PS500 from a cashier - the second large withdrawal that day.

He handed over the money to the men after one told him: "Keep hold of it until we're outside."

A witness raised concerns with the cashier, and the bank manager contacted the police.

A string of large withdrawals had been made from the account which received his pension.

The next day, he was back with Ryan and Longstaff, taking out PS680. All three then got into a taxi.

When police spoke to the victim, he said the two men had been demanding money from him for three weeks, taking him to the bank almost every day. …

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