Sheffield & South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire castration-threat blackmail gang jailed

Terence Cunningham Sr Image copyright North East Serious Operations Unit
Image caption Gang leader Terence Cunningham Sr was jailed for eight years and six months.

Four men who threatened people with castration unless they paid for unnecessary road surfacing work have been jailed.

Led by Terence Cunningham Sr, the gang from Askern, South Yorkshire, targeted businesses across Yorkshire and North East England.

One company owner handed over £19,000 for just a couple of hours work.

All four men were convicted of blackmail following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Cunningham Sr, 48, was jailed for eight years and six months. His son, Terence Cunningham Jr, 26, was sent to prison for six years.

William Adams, 46, of was jailed for eight years and six months and Darren Squire, 41, received four years.

All four were also given five-year serious crime prevention orders.

An accountant, Michael Howley, 72 from Messingham, Scunthorpe, was jailed for four years for laundering the gang's criminal proceeds.

'Watching my kids'

Speaking after the case, Det Sgt Alan Turner of the North East Serious Operations Unit said the gang destroyed their victims lives.

"They could not get on with their normal business," he said.

"The businesses in some cases had to be closed.

"Eventually some people just gave up and paid the money."

The gang also threatened to "park 200 caravans" on the land of businesses that refused to pay, police said.

One anonymous victim told the BBC he feared for his family's lives.

"I was terrified," he said.

"I felt really sacred, they said they were watching my kids.

"They just kept calling, swearing and being abusive."

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