Trio jailed after gang cash disappears

A blackmail threat victim has been assured in court he has nothing to fear from a man who was once his friend.

The assurance came from Terry Jones, 43, of Nelson, at his sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch with two other men convicted of blackmail after a trial.

Justice Dobson described blackmail as "a nasty and insidious crime" as he jailed all three over the threats made to a man when between $30,000 and $50,000 cash apparently connected to Nelson's Red Devils motorcycle club went missing from a farm where it had been buried.

Justice Dobson said he inferred it was "illegitimate money".

But the man who provided the money  - Jones who has connections to the motorcycle gang - did not accept that it was illegitimate.

Another of those convicted, Ritchie Stuart Clutterbuck, 49, said today that he had believed the money was "debt for motorcycles".

At the end of the trial, it was not clear what had happened to the money.

It had simply disappeared from where it had been hidden at the request of Jones, buried inside a deer shed on a Nelson farm. 

After its disappearance, Clutterbuck and 37-year-old Leon Delshannon Turner, of Christchurch, arranged to meet the farmer in Christchurch and the jury found their conduct amounted to threats to him and his family.

The three men were convicted of blackmail.

Defence counsel for Jones, James Rapley, said the blackmail victim in this case was not a stranger and Jones had written a letter saying he would not be intimidated.

The meeting - in a hamburger outlet car park in Belfast - had lasted an hour and the victim had left the meeting where the threats were made, but had returned and bargained the claim down from $140,000 to $100,000.

He said the jury had convicted Jones of asking Clutterbuck to make the threats. It was not well thought-out or well planned.

Jones had taken steps to better himself in prison with qualifications for writing, numeracy, wood manufacture, and workplace safety.

He was assessed as a medium risk of reoffending, but a low risk of harm to the public.

He had married Anna Heloise Horgan, 37, of Nelson, who was acquitted at the trial.

Paul Norcross said Turner was remorseful, ashamed, and disappointed with himself. "He wants to change. He wants out of the system, and to put his focus on his family." He said Turner apologised for his comments in court at the time of verdicts at the trial.

"It was made out of frustration. He did not feel he made a threat to anyone." He now accepted that he had been guilty as a party, to making the threats.

Clutterbuck spoke for himself, saying he appreciated the judge listening to him during the trial "even though I might have got your goat up a couple of times". He said he had got involved in a case of two friends fighting over money. He admitted initially demanding $140,000 from the victim, and told him that "bullying" texts from the victim's daughter to Horgan had to stop.

He said: "Him and his family were never hurt. That could have been done from prison, or if people had wanted to, but it wasn't."

He said Turner had only been at the meeting where the threats were made because he was driving him.

He apologised to Turner's family in court.

"Leon stands beside me today for being a loyal friend and giving me a ride."

He said he would never have spoke to the alleged victim if he had known all the background.

He was "passing a message on" between friends who were at each other's throats. 

Justice Dobson noted Jones' assurance that the blackmail victim had nothing to fear from him.Jones was jailed for two years six months.

Clutterbuck, who has about 350 previous convictions including manslaughter in 1986, was jailed for two years nine months.

Turner was jailed for two years, but the judge said home detention was inappropriate "because of the nature of the blackmail".

The Press