THREE members of a Lithuanian gang said to have demanded £10,000 cash from a man with threats and weapons “over a debt” have been jailed for a total of six-and-a- half years.
Burnley Crown Court heard how terrified factory worker Donatos Malciiaukas, a fellow countryman, was blackmailed and kidnapped by five men, including Ruslan Sivoborod, 31, Albertas Filatovas, 37, Rimas Vilkevicius, 36, and Gediminas Paskevicius, 37.
He had been told he would be cut up, and beaten, if he didn’t go with them.
Mr Malciiaukas, who knew Filatovas and Sivoborod, had been instructed to hand over £10,000.
Filatovas, who thought the vic-tim owed him the cash and recruited the other men, warned him if he didn’t pay up, he would be overdosed on heroin and left for dead in the street.
The victim was punched, driven to a cash machine near the Spar, in Padiham Road, Burnley by an aggressive, hooded knifeman.
On the way home in the car, Mr Malciiaukas paid over the £100 he had withdrawn, and Filatovas told him a car would be waiting at his house at 6pm, to collect £1,000.
The victim later went to the police and the four defendants were arrested three days later. Sivoborod, a father-of-two, of Melville Street, and Filatovas, Vilkevicius and Paskevicius, all of Brennand Street, Burnley, admitted kidnapping and blackmailing Mr Malciiaukas, last August 17.
Father-of-two Filatovas, said to have been running a cannabis growing operation in his family home, where police found 30 to 40 plants, also pleaded guilty to producing the drug and abstracting electricity.
The defendants face deportation after their sentences.
Filatovas was jailed for three years, and Sivoborod and Paskevicius each got 21 months.
Vilkevicius will be sentenced today.
Prosecutor Mark Lamberty told the court Mr Malciiaukas lived in Burnley. The defendants spoke Lithuanian, but were also fluent in Russian.
Last August 17, Mr Malciiaukas arrived home at 6.20am and, as he approached his front door, five men came to him.
Filatovas told him they needed to talk and the alleged victim was surrounded by the men and felt frightened.
The prosecutor continued: “One of the men stuck a sharp object into his back. He turned and saw what he thought was the shiny blade of a knife.
“The men threatened that unless he went with them, they would cut him up and beat him.”
In a house near Colne Road, Mr Malciiaukas was ordered to sit at a table and was threatened with a knife by an unknown man.
The “Russian speaker” was assertive and Filatovas then told the alleged victim he had to pay £10,000.
Mr Lamberty continued: “The man with the knife said ‘Let’s break him up’.”
Mr Malciiaukas was then hit repeatedly and Filatovas instructed him to show them on a laptop in the room how much he had in his bank account. He said he did not have Internet banking.
Filatovas appeared with a metal bar, threatened to beat him and told him to pay at £1,000 per month.
He replied that he only had £290 in his account, but that he would pay £100 that morning.
Mark Stuart, for Sivoborod, said he was working in a chocolate factory at the time, and “has put his family life in jeopardy and for that he is very upset”.
Joe Boyd, defending Filatovas, then a plastics factory worker, said he had a “significantly disabled” child, and had brought his children to this country for a better life. The barrister added: “I don’t put him forward as a man of good character.”
Martin Hackett, for Paskevicius, said he didn’t have a weapon, or become involved in violence.
Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendants: “The origins of all the offences are somewhat murky. I don’t believe a good deal of what anybody has told me.”