Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 18:35 UK

Loan shark convicted of blackmail

John Kiely
John Kiely was convicted of two counts of blackmail

A loan shark who left customers fearing for their lives has been found guilty of blackmail.

John Kiely charged up to 2,437% in interest on loans and used enforcers to collect debts owed by families on east Manchester housing estates.

The 36-year-old, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, was found guilty of two counts of blackmail at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

Judge Adrian Smith warned him he faced an "inevitable prison sentence".

The jury cleared Kiely of two further counts of blackmail and were directed by the judge to clear him of a fifth count.

Kiely was also convicted of one count of acquiring criminal property, two counts of concealing, disguising, converting or transferring criminal property, and two counts of unlawfully failing to give notice of a change in circumstances.

It was the worst thing I've done in my life, basically. I was desperate for the money
Donna Ockerby
Blackmail victim

He was convicted of two counts of blackmail in relation to his threatening behaviour towards customer Donna Ockerby.

During evidence, she told a jury she was forced to move house because she so frightened of the man she knew as "Johnny Boy Kiely".

She borrowed £300 to pay for her wedding dress in January 2007 because she was "absolutely desperate", the jury heard.

Concrete block

Mrs Ockerby said she faced aggressive demands for money and feared for her life when a concrete block was thrown at her window after a debt collector called and she hid in the kitchen.

She told Kiely's defence, Arthur Gibson: "It was the worst thing I've done in my life, basically. I was desperate for the money."

Kiely was cleared of two counts of blackmail against her husband, Stephen Ockerby, and daughter Bekky Hargreaves.

Prosecutor Ben Mills told the court that Kiely made a profit of £2.9m between October 2003 and his arrest in October last year.

'Based on power'

Tony Quigley, of Trading Standards North West's illegal money lending team, said Kiely was a menacing character who terrorised customers.

Mr Quigley said: "Illegal money lenders have a disproportionate effect on communities. It's all based on power.

"Money lenders are not a community service, they're criminals who will go to any lengths to get their money back."

Mr Quigley said Kiely had around 1,200 customers.

Kiely was remanded into custody and will be sentenced on 5 August.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of illegal money lending in February and will also be sentenced for those offences.

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