Vicious loan shark who kidnapped borrower and broke his jaw jailed for seven years

A vicious loan shark who kidnapped a vulnerable borrower, forcing him to travel in the boot of his car to get cash and broke his jaw during an attack when he couldn’t meet a repayment has today been jailed for seven years.

Richard Dawson, aged 35, from Barnsley, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court where he was told by the judge, Mr Recorder Adrian Langdale KC he was clearly involved in ‘organised crime extortion racket’ and trapped his victims in a ‘cycle of debt and despair’.

Dawson, of Hill End Close, admitted charges of illegal money lending, money laundering and kidnap. He also admitted assault causing grievous bodily harm and assault causing actual bodily harm against one person and assaulting a second victim, causing actual bodily harm.

The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Barnsley Council Safer Neighbourhoods Service and South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Simon Mortimer, prosecuting on behalf of the IMLT, told the court Dawson was a ‘vicious loan shark’ who never had the authority from the Financial Conduct Authority to legally lend money.

“Operating outside the legal framework allows illegal money lenders to conduct their business as they so wish and under the radar of the authorities,” he said.

Mr Mortimer said Dawson was known to his two victims, a mother and son. In 2022 the mother asked to borrow money and Dawson lent her £5 but said she would have to repay double the following week and triple if it went to the week after. There followed a series of loans on the same terms and she became stuck in a cycle of debt.

The son also began borrowing from Dawson, and would hand over his entire benefit money, even if only a small repayment was due. On occasion Dawson would use his victim’s bank card to withdraw money.

The court heard it became common practice for the victim to be forced to travel in the boot of Dawson’s car to withdraw money from a cash machine.

CCTV evidence showed Dawson arriving at a cashpoint and parking before releasing the victim from the boot on more than one occasion. In one, the victim withdrew his entire benefit payment of £364.90.

Mr Mortimer said Dawson was known to intimidate borrowers with violence and on one occasion when his borrower could not repay the amount, he assaulted him, breaking his jaw.

He said it caused serious injury where part of the jaw broke away and penetrated his cheek. He has since suffered permanent facial disfigurement and has ongoing dental treatment.

On another occasion Dawson punched him leaving him with injuries including a black eye and also assaulted the mother by kicking her, knocking her into furniture.

Mr Mortimer said the victim was clearly terrified when speaking about Dawson and was fearful for his life.

The court heard that the alert was raised via a report to the England Illegal Money Lending Team and a warrant was executed at Dawson’s home address in February this year when various items were seized, including a bank card belonging to the male victim.

Financial investigations found that between 2020 and 2024 Dawson had sent 292 payments to 29 different people. A number of these transactions were annotated with the words ‘Loan’ or ‘Lending’.

Analysis of other accounts showed the total paid in representing repayments was £52,416.14, but this did not take account of cash repayments which were not banked or used for everyday expenses.

Meanwhile, there was no evidence of any legitimate income from employment into Dawson’s accounts. Mr Mortimer said: “Clearly the illegal money lending enterprise finances their lifestyle.”

Defending, Mr Sean Fritchley, said Dawson, a married father of three, was ashamed of his actions and only asked the victim to travel in the boot because he had his children’s car seats in the back.

But Recorder Langdale said the £52,000 mentioned was clearly the tip of the iceberg and he charged ‘extortionate’ interest rates targeting extremely vulnerable victims.

He said it was a form of ‘pure humiliation’ and the victim was treated ‘little better than an animal rather than the human being he was’.

He sentenced Dawson to 15 months in prison for illegal money lending and three years for money laundering, to run concurrently.

He was sentenced to 34 months for the GBH charge, 25 months for each of the ABH charges and four years for kidnap, all to run concurrently, meaning in total he was jailed for a total of seven years.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “Today we have seen a vicious, predatory criminal removed from our streets and we hope this sends a message that illegal money lending and associated intimidation tactics will not be tolerated.

“This man is a ruthless and cruel individual who deliberately targeted the most vulnerable people in the community, taking everything they had and leaving them with nothing. He knew they couldn’t fight back and took advantage of that.

“When they struggled to pay, he lashed out, causing serious injuries. They may recover from those physical injuries but the mental torment he caused was enormous and they may never recover from the trauma they suffered at his hands.

“Illegal money lending is a scourge on society; when it is accompanied by monstrous violence and physical intimidation like this it is even worse – and this is something we will not tolerate.

“The bravery shown by these individuals in coming forward, even though they were terrified of repercussions, is incredible. We can’t thank them enough for that.

“We realise other people may be in a similar position, but we would urge anyone who has any experience of illegal lending to contact us sooner rather than later so that we can take action to keep them safe and help them escape the grip of an illegal lender.”

Anna Hartley, Barnsley Council’s Executive Director for Public Health and Communities, said: “This was an awful crime and we’re grateful to the England Illegal Money lending Team and South Yorkshire Police who worked closely with our own Safer Communities team in bringing this defendant to justice.

“It’s unacceptable to prey on those who suffer financial hardship and exploit them through threats and violence. We urge anyone with information about illegal money lending to reach out and report these criminals.

“We know the cost of living crisis has put huge additional pressure on lots of people. In Barnsley we have a range of information and guidance at our More Money In Your Pocket webpage”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, the IMLT has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 416 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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