Riaz vowed to set the couple's home on fire
Sarfraz Riaz, aged 39, of Birmingham, was jailed for two years and seven months after he threatened to set a couple’s home on fire unless they paid him £11,000.
He wanted them to pay a five-figure sum after he lent the money to a friend he had been living with.
Manchester Crown Court heard that Riaz loaned a sum of money to his friend while they were living together in Birmingham.
The friend then moved out on December 3, 2020, without leaving a forwarding address.
Riaz then tracked down the friend’s brother and sister-in-law. He told them that a group of men were looking for him.
A man turned up at the couple’s home asking for the brother’s phone number, which he claimed was so that he could tell him about what was happening.
Instead, the number was given to Riaz. He contacted the victim and asked him to hand over the £11,000.
If he did not, Riaz vowed to set the couple’s home on fire and steal their cars.
Riaz also threatened to involve a “dangerous gangster” called Mr Moffat and would hold the man’s relative hostage if the money was not paid by 6 pm the following day.
Following the threats, the couple fled their home and stopped answering phone calls.
But Riaz continued to send them messages, repeating his threats and stating that police would not be able to protect them 24 hours a day.
Riaz was arrested on December 8, 2020, after detectives identified Riaz as the person behind the threats.
The court heard that despite Riaz’s arrest, the couple were so “traumatised” that they decided to move house and switch jobs.
Riaz pleaded guilty to one charge of blackmail.
In mitigation, Preet-Paul Tutt said no property or money was ever exchanged between the victims and Riaz.
He said Riaz had never acted on his threats.
Mr Tutt explained that his client had since had time to reflect and was “shocked” by his actions.
He added: “He simply does not know what came over him during that period.
“He was not thinking about the consequences.”
Riaz was set to get married in August 2021 and had also missed the birth of his daughter while in custody.
Mr Tutt said: “He feels helpless.
“It pains him that the reality is he is not going to see his daughter any time soon. Neither is he likely to see his fiancee any time soon.
“He accepts and acknowledges he has no one else to blame but himself.”
Judge Elizabeth Nicholls told Riaz that he had “held a reign of terror” over the couple.
“You drove the victims from their home address.”
“They believed the threats and did not feel safe in their own home.
“There can be no doubt they were completely innocent victims of your campaign.”
Manchester Evening News reported that on August 31, 2021, Riaz was jailed for two years and seven months.