Cumbria

Milnthorpe bank blackmailer Peter Gould in rape threats

A 71-year-old Cumbrian man who tried to blackmail his local bank out of £150,000 was caught when police filled a bag with fake cash.

Carlisle Crown Court heard retired businessman Peter Gould threatened female staff at HSBC Milnthorpe with rape if he was not given the money.

He spent a year planning the crime after losing £70,000 to fraudsters.

Gould, of Natland, near Kendal admitted blackmail and was given a two-year prison term, suspended for two years.

Ransom letter

The court was told Gould delivered a note to the HSBC bank in Milnthorpe last June, in which he said if he was not given the money he would arrange for its female staff and members of their families to be raped.

He arranged to pick up the money from a car parked near Milnthorpe cricket club.

But the court heard the bag left there contained only banknote-sized pieces of paper and Gould was arrested when he went to collect it.

When police searched his house they found a copy of the ransom letter, details of where the bank staff lived and evidence he had been researching on the internet to find out how to commit the crime.

Judge Barbara Forrester told him he would have gone straight to prison but for his age and ill health.

Speaking after the hearing, Det Supt Paul Duhig said: "We rarely encounter offences of blackmail and this case was especially unique due to the offender's age and the sophistication of his plot.

"Gould is an intelligent man who was an ex-businessman and had no criminal record.

"The threats he made were particularly frightening for the bank staff, making specific references to their home addresses and some family details.

"Now this case has come to a close I hope that his victims can put this frightening ordeal behind them."

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