THE terrified parents of a prison inmate handed over more than £4,000 and a car to a blackmailer who warned them their son would be attacked in jail.
Matthew Broughton was in custody on remand before he was jailed for five years for attempted rape in April this year.
But Bolton Crown Court heard how Jerone McKenzie played on Broughton’s parents’ fears for their 29-year-old son and made up a story about the danger he was in.
He offered to help them ensure his safety Nigel Booth, prosecuting, told how, in January this year 32-year-old McKenzie visited the Broughtons and handed over money for some tyres their son had sold.
But then McKenzie warned the couple, who are in their 60s, that their son was in danger, claiming a man named “Carl” was behind threats to hurt the prisoner if he did not receive cash.
Linda Broughton withdrew £1,550 that month and handed it to McKenzie.
The following month she received text messages from a number she did not recognise, which told her she would have to pay more if she valued her son’s life.
McKenzie collected two more lots of cash from the Broughtons in February and March.
Mr Booth said McKenzie, a father-of two, then approach the Broughtons again, and claimed his own children were being held hostage at gunpoint by a man call Georgie from Liverpool.
Mr Booth said: “This was all simply lies. He was using their concern for his children’s safety to elicit more money.”
In total more than £4,000 cash was given to McKenzie who then told the Broughtons that “Carl” had died in an accident.
The Broughtons thought it was all over.
But on April 17 the pensioners got another chilling text which read: “Mrs B you need to do as I say otherwise Matt will be finished for good.
“Do not attempt to go to the police as there is a five grand hit on your son. If you do not coop with us today Matt is going to get his face slashed and repeated stabbed for the two years of his sentence.”
The couple, who had already raided their life savings, gave their son’s old Subaru car to McKenzie, wrongly believing he was handing it over to the “bad people in the background”.
Afterwards the couple decided to go to the police and McKenzie, of Marld Crescent, Doffcocker, was arrested. He pleaded guilty to blackmail.
Andrew Evans, defending, said McKenzie, who has previously served jail sentenced for blackmail and robbery, had been out of trouble for seven years and looked after his two children at home whilst his partner worked as a nurse.
But he added he had found it impossible to escape his past.
Sentencing McKenzie to four years in prison Judge Elliot Knopf told him: “This was an ugly and callous, and although you did not use physical violence, a vicious catalogue of actions on your part.
“You exploited every emotional lever you could pull in order to extract money and a car.”