A chilling blackmail plot involving two Stoke-on-Trent brothers has come to an end with the sentencing of 38-year-old Darren McLean from Hackney, London.
After an extensive investigation by Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime Department, Wood Green Crown Court sentenced McLean to ten years in prison on May 5th.
He received an additional five years for what police described as ‘unrelated’ offences.
In January, McLean was found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to blackmail and one count of conspiracy to falsely imprison.
The court heard how the Stoke-on-Trent brothers’ trip to London in July 2020 took a nightmarish turn as they became victims of blackmail threats.
Mobile phones were used to demand over £300,000 for the release of one brother, with the sinister calls continuing for days.
On July 16, armed police intercepted a yellow transit van (scroll down for video) leaving a travellers’ site in Cambridgeshire.
Body-worn camera footage shows the moment when officers stopped the van and rescued the male who was being kept in the back of the vehicle.
McLean, who was driving the van, quickly tried to destroy a mobile phone in his possession, later identified as one of the devices used to make the threats and demands.
The victim, whom McLean claimed was a friend, was found inside the van’s rear compartment, lying on a mattress, and reported being threatened with violence and racially abused.
With McLean’s sentencing, the brothers can finally breathe a sigh of relief, knowing justice has been served.
Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Sergeant Garry Jackson said:
“This was a terrifying experience for the victims. It also had a profound impact on their family members and friends.
“The investigation was incredibly complex and involved a number of police forces who supported our efforts, including the Metropolitan Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
“I would like to thank all of the officers and staff involved from Staffordshire for working tirelessly on the case.
“As a force, we are committed to tackling and disrupting organised criminality.
“I also want to express our thanks to the prosecuting barristers Anne Whyte KC and Eloise Emanuel KC who have presented the case to the court, the jury, and also to Mr David Parsons, the reviewing lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service, who has advised on the case since the start of the investigation.
“We’re pleased that McLean will now be serving a substantial sentence which reflects the seriousness of this disturbing crime.”
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