A violent bully fleeced a man with learning difficulties out of more than £76,000 of his pension after threatening to have him tortured and dipped in acid.
Craig McIlroy, 44, repeatedly assaulted and intimidated his vulnerable victim in order to get cash from him to fund his gambling habit.
McIlroy - jailed for seven years today - abused the friendship of the 51-year-old victim before taking more than £76,000 from him which he lost at casinos.
Leeds Crown Court heard McIlroy initially befriend the victim in a pub in 2007.
Two years later the victim moved to live in a shed in the garden at McIlroy’s home in Leeds.
Jeremy Hill-Baker, prosecuting, said McIlroy became violent and aggressive towards him.
In March 2011 the victim took early retirement from his job as a gardener and received a lump sum of £12,000.
He was persuaded to give £5,000 of it to McIlroy.
McIlroy gambled the money away and began to threaten and assault the victim to get more cash.
The victim later told police: “He said he knew these people who would pick you up and do you in. I was frightened and had nowhere to go.
“He said he has got this place, a warehouse, where they torture people and dip them in acid.”
In 2013 McIlroy persuaded the victim to cash in his pension and more £85,000 was paid into his bank account.
Large sums of money were then transferred to McIlroy’s account.
The victim also withdrew large amounts and kept them in a safe but McIlroy obtained a key for it and stole £26,000.
McIlroy, of Latchmere Road, Moortown, was arrested and released on bail but assaulted another man in October last year at a pub at Leeds railway station.
The victim cut his finger on a glass as he was pushed to the floor and then punched in the face.
McIlroy pleaded guilty to four offences of blackmail, one of theft and one of unlawful wounding.
Camille Morland, mitigating, said McIlroy’s gambling addiction was out of control at the time of the offences.
Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “As far as blackmail is concerned, it is one of the most nastiest and vicious offences in the criminal calendar.
“You committed these offences against a man who you had befriended and who knew was extremely vulnerable.
“The blackmail was committed against the background of threats of violence of an extreme nature.
“It is a very troubling case. It is made worse by the fact that he was a man who treated you kindly.”