A pair of blackmailers were sentenced to immediate jail terms after their suspended sentences were overturned by the Court of Appeal today.

Steven Banks and Selhurst Blades plead guilty to blackmail charges in Chelsmford Crown Court early this year after they threatened Mark Richardson, of Alphamstone.

They confronted Mr Richardson with a truncheon and demanded the payment of £30,000, which they claimed was money owed to a third party following the liquidation of Richardson’s company.

Blacks was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and Blades to 9 months’ imprisonment, both fully suspended, with curfew conditions also imposed.

Banks’ sentence was increased to 40 months’ imprisonment (3 years 4 months). Blades’ sentence was increased to 34 months’ imprisonment ( 2 years 10 months).

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP referred the sentence as unduly lenient, and speaking after today’s hearing today said: “These men terrified their victim with threats of violence, and nearly £8,000 of the money he provided them out of fear for himself and his family’s safety has never been recovered.

“I am glad that the Court of Appeal has decided today to increase the sentence in this case as there is a real need for deterrent sentences, in particular in a case where the offenders decide to take the law into their own hands.”