Blackmailers lose fight for early prison release

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TWO men locked up for almost 30 years between them after holding a man hostage and threatening him with a knife and gun have lost an appeal to be let out of jail early.

Leslie Noel, aged 44, and James Allen, 32, were convicted at Sheffield Crown Court in March of blackmail and having an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Noel, of Madehurst Road, Arbourthorne, was jailed for 16 years, while Allen, of Hurlfield Road, also Arbourthorne, received 12 years and eight months.

The pair were jailed for seeking revenge after a Sheffield man fled Jamaica after becoming embroiled in a disturbance at a wedding.

Noel’s pal James Allen was related to one of the aggrieved parties in Jamaica.

The pair enlisted the help of another man – Matthew Hibbert – and lured their victim to a house on Queen Mary Road, Manor, where they held him hostage, threatened him with a knife and gun and demanded £15,000 in compensation.

The victim’s brother, who had not been at the Jamaican wedding and played no part in the violence there, was also held hostage until he offered to get their captors the cash they demanded.

He raised the alarm after jumping from a moving car as he pretended to be making efforts to get the cash.

Four months later, Noel visited the brother who had jumped from the moving car and punched him, smashed up his car and demanded £7,000 in compensation, but again he managed to run away.

Noel and James took their case to London’s Court of Appeal – claiming that their terms were too long compared to Hibbert, who was sentenced to a lesser term of 12 years.

But Mr Justice Coulson, sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Judge Martin Stephens, upheld both sentences.

He said Allen’s term was not ‘excessive’ and that Noel’s term was longer due to the second blackmail attempt.