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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Machete-wielding bank boss ‘received death threats from Sunderland gangster’


BANK sales manager armed himself with two machetes after underworld loan sharks torched his home and threatened to “make his life a misery”, he told a court. Debt-ridden David Baker turned to the criminal fraternity to borrow £5,000 in cash, despite holding down a £30,000-a-year job with Barclays. But, when he was unable to repay the loan given to him by a “well-known” Wearside gangster, his Audi A5 was torched on the driveway of his Seaham home and he later received death threats. Just 24 hours later – on Christmas Eve last year – arsonists set his front door alight as his partner and young daughter sat upstairs. Fearing for his life, he armed himself with two foot-long machetes and stashed them in the footwell of his partner’s car as they drove to meet an acquaintance who might be able to end his problem. And, after discovering his home had been targeted, he flew into a rage at passing motorist Lee Atkinson and brandished the blades, screaming: “Do you want some you little ****.” David Wilkinson, prosecuting, said: “Mr Atkinson was driving along the Coast Road when the defendant and his partner Vicky Barnes were driving behind his vehicle. They overtook the vehicle and pulled in front. Mr Atkinson saw that the defendant was holding a knife that had a blade of about a foot in length and a width of about two inches. “He shouted: ‘Do you want some of this you little ****?’. “He had acted out of the misapprehension that Mr Atkinson was linked to the incident at his home. “Officers recovered two machetes, which were 15ins in length. In an interview, he said he was in debt to a gangster he was not going to name. “He heard from third parties that the person concerned was going to make his life a misery and he then bought the two machetes for his own protection.” Baker had applied for a loan at his work after deciding that he wanted to buy a second car for him and his family. But, after building up debt during his youth, his credit history was shot and they rejected his request. In September last year, he opted to take a four-month break from work to spend more time with his family. At the same time, he claimed he was making £10,000 a month working as a professional gambler on internet gaming sites. His friend had told him that he could get him a loan and he was eventually given a £5,000 pay-out. However, after he failed to make the repayments he said that he began receiving threats and his house and car were both set on fire. Following the attack on his home, his partner received a phone call from the Sunderland gangster and she told police he was calling to follow up his threats. Baker, 23, from Seaham, appeared at Durham Crown Court yesterday after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and using threatening and abusive behaviour. But Judge Michael Cartlidge adjourned the case after questioning Baker’s legal team, led by Lewis Kerr, and saying he wanted Baker to prove that he had applied for a loan. The judge said: “He must have though at some point that this was all sounding a bit rubbish.”


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