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Man was told he would be 'burnt alive'
11:00am Thursday 24th January 2013 in News
A MAN wrongly accused of attacking a 16-year-old boy was told by the teen’s brother to pay him £1,000 or his family would be burnt alive.
Jack Middlemore, aged 20, of Hughes Avenue, Orford, threatened Timothy Almond as he believed he had beaten up his younger sibling.
Warrington Crown Court heard on Monday how Mr Almond was himself attacked by the 16-year-old following a party in Warrington town centre on January 20 last year.
Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said that a third person, passing in a car, stopped and attacked the teenager.
But Middlemore blamed Mr Almond for the incident, tracking him down on Facebook and asking for his home address.
Mr Hussey said: “Jack Middlemore was basically telling Mr Almond that he had made a bad mistake, that he was responsible for the attack and was going to be punished.”
On February 27 last year, the threats escalated. Middlemore called Mr Almond on his mobile phone, with the victim recording the conversation.
The court heard how the defendant demanded he pay £100 a week for 10 weeks to compensate his brother for injuries sustained during the alleged attack.
If he refused Middlemore would ‘ruin his life’, get his car ‘blown up’ have his windows ‘put through every week’ and ‘set fire to his house with his family inside’.
The threats were passed on to police who arrested Middlemore the following day.
He remained silent when questioned but a Sim card taken from his phone was used to identify him.
The defendant, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to blackmail.
Simon Berkson, defending, said: “This is an unusual case. He is devoted to his full-time work as a scaffolder and clearly valued by his employer in that regard.
“It is a serious offence but there are factors that should save the defendant (from going to prison).”
Recorder Andrew Long said: “In normal cirumcumstances I’d have no hesitation in sending you to prison for some time.
“The fact you are 20 years of age, and have no previous convictions is going to save you.”
Middlemore was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He will also be on electronic curfew for three months between 7.30pm and 5am, and do 200 hours unpaid work.