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'Punishments will never be enough'

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 07, 2013

Thomas Leslie, Martin Drewery, Jason Taft, Andrew Boal, Kevin Proctor

Thomas Leslie, Martin Drewery, Jason Taft, Andrew Boal, Kevin Proctor

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A MAN whose home was targeted with a bomb as part of a campaign of threats and intimidation has said the punishments will never be enough for the people who tried to hurt his family.

Five men were convicted by a jury at Stafford Crown Court on Tuesday, July 30, after a 14-week trial for a total of 53 years for their part in the campaign against Cheadle businessman Jason Sherratt, his colleagues and their families.

This included sending pipe bombs filled with nails to three properties in Blythe Bridge, Cheadle and Weston Coyney in August last year.

Jason Taft, aged 42 of Thorney Edge, Bagnall, was sentenced to 16 years for conspiring to cause explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury and six years for conspiring to make threats to kill. The sentences will run concurrently.

Thomas Leslie, aged 35 of Crumlin Road, Belfast, County Antrim, was sentenced to 14 years for conspiring to cause explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury and five years for conspiring to make threats to kill - his sentences will also run concurrently.

Andrew Boal, aged 32 of The Brae, Ballygowan, Newtownards, County Down, was sentenced to five years after being found guilty of conspiring to make threats to kill (he was found not guilty of conspiring to cause explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury).

Kevin Proctor, aged 44 of Edge View Road, Stoke-on-Trent, and Martin Drewery, aged 43 of Sandy Lane, Brown Edge, were sentenced to nine years each after being found guilty of conspiring to cause explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury (he was also found not guilty of conspiring to make threats to kill).

Jarrad Moore, whose home in Axon Crescent, Weston Coyney, was one of the three properties bombed, said: "I'd have liked them to have got longer sentences and for them to serve the whole sentence, rather than it running concurrently, but at least the main ringleaders have been convicted now so I'm happy about that.

"The sentences will always not be long enough for someone who threatens your children, but this is where we are and we've just got to get on with it.

"I feel a little safer and don't have to check my car as much; I was just really very angry and it's a totally wrong act against family dwellings.

"Despite whatever issue there may have been it's not something that you'd expect and I don't think there is any reasoning or explanation for doing a thing like that.

"Apparently the bombs were only meant to scare; you don't put six inch nails into an explosives filled pipe, detonate it and knock on someone's door for them to find it only to scare someone; it's an absolute miracle that no one was killed or injured."

During the trial the prosecution alleged that the terror campaign had begun following a row over money which Mr Taft claimed that he was owed by Jason Sherratt.

Mr Moore, who works with Mr Sherratt at the scrapyard business in Cheadle at the centre of the row, added: "He was well aware he wasn't owed money, all this has been hidden behind different companies and things and the whole "row" thing was just a sideshow and a red herring. He is a nasty man with some nasty friends.

"A lot of people would have caved in after the bombings, but it was that far removed from normality it's had the opposite affect and, along with the threats, it has made us very angry.

"Obviously we were concerned and we didn't stay alone in the yard and we are more careful with security.

"I suppose I feel very bullish about the whole thing as there's no point being hung up on it, life does go on and there are people depending on all of us."

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Harding, who led the investigation, said: “We welcome the sentences which mark the conclusion of this stage of the investigation.

“We would like to thank the witnesses for their support in what has been a long and complicated inquiry.

“Threatening, intimidating behaviour and more seriously, nail bombings, will not be tolerated in Staffordshire and although the wider public's safety was not at risk, this was undoubtedly a very serious crime and the defendants must now face the consequences of their involvement.”

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