TWO brothers preyed on the most vulnerable members of society as they ran an illegal money lending business for more than two years.
A court heard Thomas and Dennis O’Donoghue threatened ‘customers’ with violence and suggested they turn to crime in order to keep up with payments.
Leeds Crown Court heard the pair ran the illegal business with a ‘predatory mentality’.
One victim initially borrowed £20 and ended up owing £3,300 to the pair. Benjamin Williams, prosecuting, said the victim was forced to sell household items as he was having to make payments of £150 per week despite living off benefits.
At one stage the victim was so destitute he was given £100 worth of food vouchers by the Royal British Legion but was forced to hand them over to Thomas.
Thomas also threatened to send former boxers around to the victim’s home and at one stage raised his fists and said: “I haven’t used these for a long time but I will use them.”
After the brothers were arrested, investigations revealed around £67,000 was to be collected during 2013. Between 50 and 60 people are thought to have borrowed money from the pair.
Thomas, of Harehills Lane, Leeds, and Dennis, of Fairfield Terrace, Bramley, pleaded guilty to one offence of engaging in activities as a consumer credit business without a licence and
Thomas also admitted two offences of converting criminal property and Dennis admitted one offence of converting criminal property.
Both men were given six month prison sentences, suspended for two years. They will now face court proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Judge Guy Kearl, QC, said: “You offered money to those who were most vulnerable. He added: “You did this for your own benefit to satisfy your own greed.”