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Four men embroiled in a plot to blackmail a businessman, which culminated in the man's car being torched, have been sentenced.

The gang were involved in a two-month conspiracy to blackmail the victim over a debt his business partner owed to Tommy Roye (born 18/10/74), of Flixton Road, Urmston.

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Following a trial, Roye was convicted of blackmail, conspiracy to commit arson and threatening to destroy property.

Ashley Guishard (born 31/10/1974), of Totnes Road, Ashton-on-Mersey, was convicted of blackmail following a trial.

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Marcel Lauder (born 16/9/69), of Morningside Close, Derby pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and blackmail at an earlier hearing.

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Jamie Keegan (born 28/10/82), of Epsom Avenue, Sale, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and blackmail at an earlier hearing.

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Today, 13 February 2014, Roye was sentenced to six years, Guishard to three years and a further four years for an unrelated possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply charge, making seven in total, Lauder to 28 months (which includes four months for production of Class B drugs) and Keegan to 24 months at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square.

The victim was involved in the running of a Cheshire nightclub with his business partner, who owed up to £30,000 to various people, one of whom was Roye. These two men had a tense altercation in a Stretford pub on 13 August 2012, which resulted in the man in debt calling the victim and asking for help.

Concerned, the victim drove to the pub and spoke to his partner, who said he feared for his life. In desperation, the victim told Roye he would pay £5,000 towards settling the debt in order to buy his business partner time to raise the money himself. The victim was assured by his partner that he himself would not need to pay Roye any money.

However, just before 11pm on 1 October 2012, as the victim and a friend left the Lord Nelson pub in Urmston, they were ambushed on a quiet residential street by Roye and Guishard. Roye demanded to know where his money was and made threats saying: “You know who we are; you know what we can do. I’ll put you in that skip over there.” Fearing for his life, he gave Roye the keys to his Audi in the hope it would placate him. Roye told the victim that if he went to the police his car would be torched.

The following morning, the victim sent a text message to Roye asking for his car back and promising to pay the £5,000 by the 11 October, to which Roye agreed. The car was eventually returned and the victim’s business partner gave further assurances that he would pay the debt.

Despite this, on the 10 October, Roye again bombarded the victim with texts demanding payment. Roye sent the victim a threatening text which revealed he knew the man’s home address. When the victim replied saying that he had no option but to contact the police, Roye’s menacing response was: “POLICE, CALL THE FIRE SERVICE ASWEL (sic)”, a clear and direct threat to damage the victim’s property in an arson attack.

Roye recruited Keegan and Lauder to help him in his plan. It was Lauder and Keegan who went to the victim’s home at about 8pm on 12 October 2012 and torched the victim’s people carrier while it was parked on his driveway.

Roye and Guishard were arrested the next day, and during a search of Roye’s home, officers seized two ornamental Samurai swords and a machete.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Goodrich said: “This case involved a totally innocent and legitimate businessman who unwittingly became embroiled in a blackmail plot driven by a gang of violent criminals.

“All he wanted to do was help out a colleague who had got himself into debt, and for his troubles endured two months of hell at the hands of an extremely intimidating and aggressive band of criminals.

“That they went so far as to torch this man’s car as it was parked on his driveway, bearing in mind this man has a wife and daughter, shows how dangerous these men were and you can only imagine the anguish this man suffered for those two months, being bombarded with violent threats simply for trying to help a colleague.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the streets are a lot safer now that these four men are behind bars. I would also like to praise the tenacity of the victim himself who hung in there despite the hell he was subjected to and helped us to convict these men.

“Organised crime groups like these cause real misery and hardship for law-abiding and innocent members of our communities. However, in Trafford we have been targeting organised crime groups at all levels for the last two years and have achieved some fantastic results by working in collaboration with a host of partner agencies.

“We are tackling these groups with every tactic open to us, taking away their liberty, their homes, their cars and their cash. We will continue to target these organised crime groups and people in Trafford can help us by reporting any criminal activity they see in their neighbourhood.”

Anyone who has been a victim of crime can contact police on 0161 856 7655 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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