A PENSIONER has been given a two-year suspended jail sentence after attempting to blackmail a bank in Milnthorpe.
Peter Frederick Gould, 71, appeared at Carlisle Crown Court following a police investigation into blackmail of a branch of HSBC.
The police investigation was launched on June 14 2012 after the bank contacted officers to say they had received an anonymous ransom letter demanding £150,000 in cash.
The letter stated that if the bank failed to pay up, female staff at the bank and members of their families would be raped.
A significant police investigation was immediately launched to identify the offender and ensure the bank staff and their families who were potentially at risk were safe, secure and reassured.
The investigation continued for several days and the author of the letter was identified as Gould, of Robby Lea Drive in Natland, Kendal, who was arrested in Milnthorpe on July 18.
After his arrest police recovered a further copy of the ransom letter and other evidence on Gould’s computer which he had buried in an attempt to hide evidence.
Det Supt Paul Duhig said: “Gould committed a very serious offence which is highly unusual in Cumbria.
“We rarely encounter offences of blackmail .
“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.
“Officers from Cumbria’s serious and organised crime unit were immediately deployed to this investigation and protection was put in place for the members of staff who were understandably terrified for their own safety and that of their families.
“Fortunately, as the result of an effective investigation, Gould was identified and arrested before anyone was hurt or any money was handed over.
“Now this case has come to a close
“I hope that his victims can put this frightening ordeal behind them.
“Gould has the rest of his life to come to terms with what he has done.”
If you would like to report a crime call police on 101. Or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.