A man who tried to extort money from a family by leaving threatening messages has been jailed for 18 months.
Adam Ladd, 21, wrote his demands on a parked car and a waste bin at a house in a village near Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich Crown Court was told.
Prosecutor Godfried Duah said that the owners had purchased the property as their ‘dream home’ and were renovating it when Ladd struck.
On a Mini parked at the rear of the property they found ‘£5,000 on the doorstep within a week or face the consequences’. Police were alerted and began an investigation.
Two small fires were later started inside a wheelie bin and underneath a vehicle owned by the family.
Mr Duah said that on the evening of October 10 a security light was activated at the front of the house and one of the occupants saw Ladd crouching near a bay window before running away.
On a wheelie bin was found the message ‘Final warning – one week or else’.
The court heard that on the evening of October 11 a police officer saw Ladd carrying a small step ladder and gave chase. Fingerprints taken from Ladd matched others found on the Mini, said Mr Duah,
Ladd’s offending had caused a great deal of upset to the family who had been concerned for their safety, the court heard.
A search of Ladd’s room at his home in Plovers Way, Bury St Edmunds, revealed quantities of chemicals which Ladd claimed he had planned to use in making rockets.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of blackmail between September 26 and October 10 last year. Richard O’Sullivan, in mitigation, said it was an unusual case in which the victims had not been targetted for any specific reason. Alcohol may have played a part in Ladd’s offending, possibly aggravating an underlying psychological problem.
Mr O’Sullivan said that Ladd felt ashamed of his behaviour but could offer no explanation. He said: “He does really appreciate the enormity of what he has done and the distress it has caused that family.”
Sentencing him, Judge Peter Thompson told Ladd: “Blackmail is a very serious offence. It involves in every case someone being frightened. In this case there is no doubt that the family were put in real fear.”
The 99 days which Ladd has already spent on remand will be deducted from his sentence.