A ‘CRUEL and ruthless’ Barnsley loan shark, who subjected his victims to kidnap, abuse, and humiliation has been jailed.

Following a National Illegal Money Lending Team operation, supported by South Yorkshire Police and Barnsley Council, Richard Dawson, 35, of Hill End Close, Barnsley, appeared before court after he trapped his victims in a ‘cycle of debt and despair’.

Pleading guilty to the charges, the judge heard how Dawson received £52,000 in repayments from 88 ‘customers’ he had illegally lent money to.

Dawson never had authority from the Financial Conduct Authority to lend money. Those who run their own loan shark ‘businesses’ often use their own tactics for repayment, including fear, violence and humiliation. These were Dawson’s tactics.

One of Dawson’s victims became caught up in a cycle of debt after borrowing £5.

Dawson said if she failed to repay it, it would double, and then triple with each passing week, until she became indebted to him.

Dawson would take his victim’s full amount of benefits, even if only a small amount of money was due back to him. On one occasion, Dawson was captured on CCTV arriving at a cashpoint and taking his victim from the boot of his car and making him withdraw his entire bank account.

When another victim failed to pay Dawson, he was subjected to a violent assault and sustained a broken jaw.

PC Mark Whittaker, from the Barnsley Safer Neighbourhood Service (SNS), explains how the SNS ensured the Illegal Money Lending Team had the right evidence they needed to obtain warrants and prosecute, leading to Dawson’s eventual sentence.

He said: “We were tasked with assisting Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council colleagues who had initially taken reports of drug dealing and anti-social behaviour at the home of two vulnerable people.

“I visited the victims, and it became apparent that what those reporting had actually witnessed wasn’t drug dealing but the activity of a loan shark who would regularly attend to collect his payments.

“The victims, petrified of the repercussions of Dawson, refused to disclose any information.

“Safeguarding was put in place, and we continued with colleagues of BMBC to encourage them to talk but despite our efforts, Dawson’s hold on his victims was too great and for their own safety they were rehoused. While trying everything to keep the victims safe, we contacted the Illegal Money Lending Team who began enquiries into Dawson’s bank accounts and began to build their case.

“When Dawson subjected one of his victims to kidnap and assault, fast enquiries led to the location being identified and being able to quickly recover the CCTV of the victim in Dawson’s car boot.

“Following the CCTV evidence, a warrant was obtained by the Illegal Money Lending Team for Dawson’s address and officers arrested him.”

We continued to support the Illegal Money Lending Team to ensure justice was served. I am pleased Dawson, a threat and a danger to his community, will now face a lengthy sentence.”

Dawson appeared at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He pleaded guilty to kidnap, wounding with intent, carrying on a regulated activity when not authorised, concealing, disguising, converting or transferring criminal property, and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Police are urging anyone who has been affected reading this case and are being exploited to contact them online, via live chat or by calling 101.