By Sarah Beard 18/04 Updated: 18/04 12:39
RESIDENTS of The Glen in Blackwell, who were terrorised into leaving their mobile homes after a campaign of arson, blackmail and fraud, have received £507,170 in compensation.
And the cash, which was handed over to the 19 residents this afternoon (Thursday), was taken by the police from earnings that the unscrupulous gang had made from their crimes.
It was in 2007 when the two brothers led a blackmail campaign against those living on the mobile home park, many who were elderly and vulnerable. Four unoccupied homes on The Glen were burnt to the ground in a bid to get the owner to sell the site at a reduced price and then, when John Doherty had bought the business, they then attempted to force residents to leave.
In February 2009, John Doherty and his brother Simey Doherty were among seven men jailed for a total of 64 years for offences including conspiracy to commit arson, blackmail and to defraud.
Welcoming yesterday's compensation pay out, Det Insp Mark Colquhoun, who led the investigation into the blackmail, said: "The elderly and vulnerable residents of The Glen went through unimaginable terror because of the Dohertys and their associates.
"Four people were so scared they sold their homes to them for just £1 when the market value was at least £75,000.
"It was vital these residents were compensated, not just for the distress they went through but for the financial losses they sustained."
He added, while he was pleased the residents had been compensated, sadly, some of them had died since their ordeal and never got to see the money. Instead it will go to their families.
Sonia McColl, from the Park Home Owners Justice Campaign, said: "The residents endured an unimaginable campaign of terror.
"It was evil, just wicked.
"I think justice has been done as far as it can be but the victims and I feel the prison sentences are not long enough, for what they went through.
"But, West Mercia Police have been exemplary in this case and I hope their work sends a very forceful message to other unscrupulous site owners across the country."
As well as the £507,170 going to The Glen residents, a further £240,245 will go to four victims of a similar fraud at Harvest Hill in Coventry.
John Doherty was found by West Midlands Police to have defrauded almost £250,000 from people buying homes at that site, which he already owned.
The Glen and Harvest Hill were sold and, once John Doherty's mortgage lender was paid, the rest of the cash went to the victims - more than 90 per cent of their original compensation claims.
Det Insp Mark Glazzard from West Mercia Police's economic crime unit worked with the Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Court Service to recover this cash.
"We are pleased that we can do something to tip the balance back in their favour.
"West Mercia Police will not let organised crime groups who victimise vulnerable people benefit from the fruit of their criminality."
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