COURT: Jail for blackmail gang who forced North Yorkshire farmer to pay out £200,000

Bernard McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).
Bernard McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

A blackmail gang who threatened to put a bullet in a wealthy North Yorkshire farmer’s head and forced him to pay out almost £200,000 in just 17 days have been jailed.

Police investigating brothers Dennis and Bernard McGinley and co-accused Christy Stokes discovered CCTV footage of Dennis’s wife Bianca laden with designer label shopping bags after a trip to Harrods with some of the proceeds.

Bianca McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

Bianca McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, told the men: “Such was your greed, such was your complete disregard for the effect upon this family, that no sooner had one payment been made that another demand was made, so money was handed over the same day or following days.”

The court heard the Richmondshire farmer, who cannot be identified, lived in “abject fear”, believed the lives of him and his family were under threat and so made a series of nine cash payments at drop-offs up and down the country last year.

He borrowed money from friends and family and even sold his tractor to be able to meet the gang’s continuing demands.

Leader Dennis McGinley, 40, from Taunton, Somerset, was jailed for seven years and four months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit blackmail and a transferring criminal property offence.

Christy Stokes. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

Christy Stokes. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

He was on licence having been jailed in 2009 for eight years for a blackmail offence in which a businessman had almost £800,000 extorted. Police were alerted to that offence by the Lamborghini he drove at the time.

His brother Bernard, 35, also from Taunton, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the North Yorkshire offences.

Co-accused horse dealer Christy Stokes, 44, from Micheldever, Hampshire, admitted conspiracy to blackmail and was jailed for three years and nine months.

Bianca McGinley previously received a six-month suspended sentence after she admitted possession of criminal property.

Dennis McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

Dennis McGinley. Image: North Yorkshire Police (s).

Detective Inspector Mark Pearson, of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, said: “The blackmail conspiracy committed by the McGinleys and Christy Stokes was menacing and callous in the extreme.

“They deliberately targeted the farmer and subjected him to a terrifying ordeal for nearly three weeks.

“He was in a desperate state when he reported the matter to the police and genuinely feared for his own life and the safety of his family.”