Men jailed for blackmailing Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire farmers out of thousands of pounds

A FENLAND farmer was one of many in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire targeted by two men who have been jailed for blackmailing farmers out of thousands of pounds.

Arnold MacAlister, 51, and Gary Chambers, 47, were part of a gang linked to a string of blackmails across both counties between October 2008 and February 2009.

The Cambridgeshire offences occurred in Manea, Elton and two in St Neots. Two more occurred in Lincolnshire.

The latest incident occurred on February 16, last year, when three men offered to tarmac a drive for a farmer in Elton. They said the job would cost �50, however began demanding �6,000 once the drive had been laid.

The farmer received numerous phone calls threatening him with violence if he refused to pay up. The victim eventually agreed to meet MacAlister in Stamford, where he handed over a considerable amount of cash. However, police had been laying in wait and arrested MacAlister.

A yellow tipper lorry was seized nearby and DNA evidence from a drinks can led police to Chambers.

Both men, who are from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, were charged with conspiracy to blackmail.

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They denied the offences, but Chambers was found guilty following a trial and MacAlister was convicted of theft.

Chambers was jailed for four years at Huntingdon Crown Court yesterday (Monday, November 29). MacAlister was sentenced to 18 months.

Det Con Martin Brocklebank, who led the investigation, said: “This was a lengthy investigation and covered a number of different offences across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

“The tactic was always the same, carrying out the work then threatening the victims with violence in order to extort money. Some of the victims handed over large sums of cash in order to stop the threats.

“Often victims in such cases are unwilling to report the crime for fear of repercussions. However I would urge them to call police so we can stop other people becoming victims.

“The courts take blackmail very seriously as this case shows - offenders face being locked up for a very long time.”

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