Blackmailers jailed for ‘serious threats’ made to family

Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Two men who threatened a Stowmarket teenager and his family over a £3,000 drug debt have been jailed.

James Tibbenham Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

James Tibbenham Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

James Tibbenham and Edward Van Bishop made threatening phone calls to the parents of the youth and then tailed them as they fled their home to safety at the local police station.

Tibbenham then made further threatening phone calls and slapped another £1,000 on the debt as punishment for getting the police involved, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Tibbenham, 29, of Pembroke Avenue, Woodbridge, and Edward Van Bishop, 27, of Little Horsey Park, Campsea Ashe, Wickham Market, appeared via video link from Norwich Prison to be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday (Friday August 3).

The pair had previously admitted a charge of blackmail by demanding money with menaces on January 10 this year.

Edward Van Bishop Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Edward Van Bishop Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant


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The court heard that on January 10 Tibbenham and Van Bishop approached the teenager’s home in Stowmarket over the drug debt.

The youth was not there so the men promised to return later that evening and the family, realising the house was being watched by the pair, sought sanctuary at Stowmarket police station - with the youth’s parents being tailed by Tibbenham and Van Bishop in their car.

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The teenager’s stepfather and mother later received phone calls from Tibbenham in which he threatened them with violence, saying he would “get the Albanians involved” and raising the debt to £4,000 for them having involved the police.

The court heard two of the phone calls made to the family, which had been recorded on police body vests.

The court also heard statements from the family in which the mother said she had lost her son and had her family ripped apart as a result of the incident.

Judge Emma Peters said the men “were jointly responsible” for the incident which she described as an “intense three hours” for the victims who were subjected to “serious threats”.

Tibbenham was jailed for three years and four months while Van Bishop received three years and eight months for the same offence.

Van Bishop will also serve an additional 22 months for sentences of affray and criminal damage relating to an incident in Woodbridge Road in Ipswich on New Year’s Eve last year.

Both men were also given restraining orders in relation to the family and to a small area of Stowmarket near where the incident took place.

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