John Haase: 'Criminal enforcer' set Sheffield family home ablaze after demands for £280k were refused

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The elderly defendant has been in and out of the courts since 1966, and will be at least 81-years-old before he can be considered for release.

An elderly 'criminal enforcer' set the car and home of a Sheffield woman ablaze, after her former partner failed to pay a debt he had allegedly accrued. 

74-year-old John Haase was branded a 'criminal enforcer' by The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, following the arson attack at a property in Whirlow, Sheffield. 

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Sheffield Crown Court was told how prior to setting the fire, Haase had visited the property nine months earlier and demanded £280,000 from the occupants, who refused to hand over the money. 

74-year-old John Haase was branded a ‘criminal enforcer’ by The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, following the arson attack at a property in Whirlow, Sheffield74-year-old John Haase was branded a ‘criminal enforcer’ by The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, following the arson attack at a property in Whirlow, Sheffield
74-year-old John Haase was branded a ‘criminal enforcer’ by The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, following the arson attack at a property in Whirlow, Sheffield | Adobe/SYP

Then, on March 14, 2020, Haase set fire to a Range Rover belonging to one of the occupants, which was parked on the drive, and the blaze spread into the adjoining property, causing thousands of pounds of damage. 

The Range Rover had an estimated value of £40,000, and a further £23,000 of damage was caused to the property, the court heard.

Judge Richardson described how, following his release from a 22-year prison sentence imposed in 2008 for the offence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, Haase set the fire in Whirlow after becoming involved in the 'enforcement of a debt owed'.

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"You were recruited to be a criminal enforcer. When individuals could not pay a debt, you resorted to what can only be described as a form of terror," Judge Richardson said.

The indebted person Haase was attempting to claw back money from had 'removed himself to Spain,' said Judge Richarsdson; and Haase consequently began targeting the individual’s former partner, who was one of the occupants at the Whirlow property. 

Judge Richardson said the details of how the debt was accrued were unknown to the court, but he said it was 'possible' it had come about as a consequence of 'disreputable dealings of one sort or another'. 

He continued: "You discovered [he] lived in Spain. It was clearly your aim to exert some form of pressure on her to encourage her ex-partner to pay."

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"[The complainant] has been adversely affected by what happened. She was shaken, angry and extremely frightened. She has also lost money," Judge Richardson said. 

Following the fire, Haase was recalled to prison on his conspiracy to pervert the course of justice sentence, and he will now be required to serve the remainder of the sentence behind bars.

The court was told the earliest he will be eligible for release is June 25, 2030, when he will be 81-years-old. 

Haase, of HMP Frankland, Durham was found guilty of arson, reckless as to whether life was endangered, over the Whirlow blaze at the conclusion of a Sheffield Crown Court trial in November 2023. 

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In addition to Haase’s 22-year prison sentence for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, which arose out of him providing 'false information about firearms,' he has an extensive criminal record dating back as far as 1966. 

It includes several serious crimes relating to robbery, drug offences and firearms, for which he has served significant prison sentences. 

Sentencing Haase to five years’ custody for the arson, Judge Richardson said he regarded him to be a dangerous offender and consequently handed him a four-year extended licence period, bringing his total sentence to nine yearsSentencing Haase to five years’ custody for the arson, Judge Richardson said he regarded him to be a dangerous offender and consequently handed him a four-year extended licence period, bringing his total sentence to nine years
Sentencing Haase to five years’ custody for the arson, Judge Richardson said he regarded him to be a dangerous offender and consequently handed him a four-year extended licence period, bringing his total sentence to nine years | SYP

Sentencing Haase to five years’ custody for the arson, Judge Richardson said he regarded him to be a dangerous offender and consequently handed him a four-year extended licence period, bringing his total sentence to nine years. 

He said: "You were utterly reckless as to whether life was endangered, causing a significant risk of serious physical harm, and substantial damage to property."

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Speaking after the sentence was passed, Detective Constable Gareth Rees, officer in the case, said: "Haase set fire to a vehicle and caused a significant fire at a family home, putting the lives of those who lived there at significant risk. The repercussions of what may have happened if the family had been home that evening are unthinkable.

"During the sentencing the judge declared Haase to be a dangerous offender, and I am pleased that he is now off the streets where he can cause no further harm. I am also pleased that the length of the sentence handed to Haase shows the severity of his crimes."