‘Pay up or I’ll torch your home’ blackmailer tells family

A THIEF who stole cash from a family home, then demanded more money, threatening to shoot them or burn the house down as they slept if he didn’t get it, a court was told.

Friday, 26th November 2010, 11:47 am

Burnley Crown Court heard how Nelson father-of-two Mohammed Usman (25), alleged Asif Mohammed, a former workmate, was in debt to him, but in a week-long campaign of terror, had claimed it was Mr Mohammed’s uncle in London who owed him.

Usman had tricked his way into Mr Mohammed’s family home in Burnley during the day in July, pretending to be a workman, while only a young girl was in. He took £1,400 and followed it up by contacting Mr Mohammed, and telling him he would be his worst nightmare if he did not get the rest of his cash.

He claimed he would torch the house and blast the whole family.They were so frightened they fled their home.

Usman, of Charles Street, admitted burglary on July 1st, and blackmail between June 30th and July 8th, and was jailed for 21 months.

Judge Simon Newell told Usman the threats were nasty. He added: “I accept you are not a professional criminal, but these were serious offences perpetrated with some persistence and some force.”

Mr Simon Gurney (prosecuting) said Mr Mohammed lived with his two younger sisters and mother. Usman turned up at the house, with a tape measure, pencil and paper, claiming he was a friend of Mr Mohammed and was measuring up for new worktops.

He was let in, but the girl became suspicious, so said she would ring Mr Mohammed, but Usman said he would do it.

He purported to speak to the victim. The defendant left, returned with a tin of paint and went upstairs on his own. Usman then left.

Mr Gurney said the girl contacted Mr Mohammed, who said none of his friends had been expected and returned home. He found £1,400 missing from his bedroom.

He called police and then got three text messages from the defendant.

Usman insisted Mr Mohammed’s uncle owed him £2,800 and he wanted the money.

He told Mr Mohammed: “I will be straight with you. I took a grand and I want the rest by Monday. I am going to come to your house and blast you through the door.”

The defendant made further threats by text, and when Mr Mohammed’s uncle contacted the defendant, he told him: “If I don’t get the money I’m going to shoot Asif.”

Mr Gurney said the threats continued, with Usman telling Mr Mohammed he had 25 days to get £2,500, and if he did not the defendant would make his life hell. The family was so frightened they left their home.

Usman was arrested on July 8th. He denied the burglary, but his fingerprints were found in Mr Mohammed’s bedroom and he was identified by the young girl.

The defendant had a previous conviction for assault.

Mr Stephen Uttley (for Usman) said the circumstances of the case were unusual.

He said the case had no professional hallmarks. The defendant left his prints and used a mobile phone which was easily traced by the police. He would easily be caught.

Usman considered the defendant a brother. The barrister continued: “The defendant has done him a good favour and lent him £2,700 and he has not paid him back. He lost his temper about it.”

Mr Uttley said Usman had brought great shame on his family.

He said: “He has always had a job and he has put all that on the line. His work, his own reputation, his family’s reputation, his marriage and two young children. All of that over a few days of stupidity.”