Two men used imitation handgun in terrifying extortion campaign linked to serious organised crime
Two men have been jailed for their part in a terrifying campaign of threats involving an imitation handgun.
Father-of-four Jarron Rutherford and £4,000-a-month scaffolder Kevin Pullar both admitted extortion aggravated by a connection with serious organised crime.
One of their victims said he was so petrified when one of the men showed him a handgun while making threats in his car, that he thought he would crash it.
Rutherford, 33, pled guilty to extorting £5,500 in cash and a car worth £7,000 from a Midlothian businessman, as well as three counts of attempted extortion. He also pled guilty to stealing a car, breaching bail conditions three times and two motoring offences.
Pullar, 34, pled guilty to one charge of extortion, one charge of attempted extortion and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause a person to believe that unlawful violence would be used against him, each of these aggravated by a connection with serious organised crime.
The High Court in Livingston was told that Rutherford demanded £2,000 from the businessman in March last year and threatened to “put a car through the window” of his shop in Midlothian if he did not pay.
The businessman arranged to pay Rutherford, believing that would be the end of the matter, but days later he received a voice note from Pullar accusing him of “taking the piss” out of Rutherford and demanding more money.
Both accused repeatedly messaged the victim via WhatsApp demanding more money and he took out a second £2,000 loan. On March 24, he handed over the extra cash to the pair.
That didn’t stop the demands coming from both accused, the court was told.
During one of the conversations, Pullar demanded more money and stated that he “wasn’t f***ing about” and that he “had a gun and was going to shoot him”.
The businessman eventually agreed to hand over his £7,000 car and a further £1,500 in cash.
After arranging the exchange Rutherford told the businessman that Pullar would drive him back to where he had come from - but he insisted he would drive his car back himself.
Pullar then got out of Rutherford’s Mercedes with a carrier bag containing an imitation handgun and, during the journey, showed the weapon to the businessman and told him: “That was what was coming” if he didn’t pay.
The businessman later told police he was so petrified that he thought he would crash his car.
After taking his car, the pair continued to make threatening calls and turned their attention to a friend of the businessman, threatening that they were “going to shoot him” and “they would burn everything they owned.”
On March 25, his friend received a voice note from Pullar’s phone saying “get the wages paid you’re due” and threatening to blow his house up and blow him to bits. The message was passed to police.
The next day, the friend phoned Rutherford to ask what was happening and Pullar answered saying that if he didn’t pay them £5,000 that night, he would stab him, slash him and shoot his kneecaps off.
He stated he “had a gun” and would “blow a hole in him”. He also threatened to torch his house and get his family as well.
Within days, the friend received another message from Pullar which said: “Am just giving u the heads up there’s more to come unless u get back to me with a response off wat ur parting with. So I can let them now and everyone goes home happy… sleep tight bud.”
On April 9, Rutherford messaged the businessman’s friend to say he had four people from Glasgow coming through to see him and that he “better have ny f***ing money”.
The message said: “Get it ready for them cause it’s on like if you try to be smart”.
The threats of violence and damage to property continued until 16 April.
Rutherford was stopped on suspicion of drink driving on July 10 after police saw Pullar’s accident damaged Vauxhall Corsa being driven on bare alloys. He failed to provide breath specimens.
Firearms officers conducted an armed approach to Rutherford’s home at Newton Village and arrested Pullar on suspicion of threats and extortion.
The imitation firearm was found hidden behind a kickboard in the kitchen of Pullar’s home in Somerset Fields, Musselburgh. The BB handgun had been wrapped in a plastic bin liner to give it a black appearance.
Passing sentence, judge Lord Arthurson told the accused: “The gravity of the course of criminal offending before the court today means that the only appropriate disposal in respect of each of you will require to be a substantial custodial one.
“The charges of extortion and attempted extortion and the charge under the Firearms Act are plainly of particular gravity.”
He sentenced Rutherford to seven and a half years in prison, backdated to July 13 last year when he was first remanded in custody and banned him from driving for six years. He jailed Pullar for four and a half years.