A Brixham loan shark who made tens of thousands of pounds from desperate fishermen has been spared jail due to serious injuries he sustained in a stabbing.
Jamie Grant, 43, was the ringleader of an illegal money lending gang which operated in the seaside town for six years. He made vast sums of money arranging high interest loans and enforced the debt by keeping phone contact with customers in the fishing industry, often knowing where they were working and when they would be paid. Grant, of Bolton Street, admitted offences of unlawful money lending and money laundering and was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court. He was given a suspended sentence due to ongoing medical issues relating to a stabbing outside the Sprat & Mackerel pub in June 2019. In May DevonLive reported on a trial which cleared a 51-year-old local man of the attack. Grant almost died as a result of a massive stroke he suffered after being airlifted to hospital.
He was in court to hear his sentence, assisted by a registered intermediary to help him understand proceedings. Judge Timothy Rose said: “What you did over those years represented a long period of really unpleasant offending. “You were profiting from making demands of and creating huge problems for people who you were dealing with. You were exploiting them.
“They were vulnerable because if they weren’t they wouldn’t have resorted to borrowing.”
The offences happened between May 2012 and December 2018. Prosecutor Mr Simon Mortimer said the total amount of money involved was about £108,000. He said Grant had been the main player in an operation in which he used burner phones to contact customers, who were mostly in the fishing industry. The enterprise came to an end after a series of raids in December 2018. There was no evidence Grant had used violence or threats to enforce repayments. Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said Grant had suffered physical and psychological injuries in the stabbing and it would be five years before doctors would know the long-term consequences.”An immediate prison sentence is going to cause very real concerns and whether he is able to deal with it,” said Mr Bremridge. Grant’s rehabilitation could be set back for good if he was sent to jail.
“It is wholly exceptional case by reason of what happened in June 2019 and the massive stroke he sustained,” he added. Judge Rose said Grant had demanded double the money back from his customers.
He said: “I’ve seen the text messages which show you were getting information about pay days and what was being paid and clearly intervening in their lives and causing misery for them.”
He added that Grant would have gone straight to prison were it not for the injuries he sustained in the stabbing. “While the investigation was going on you were stabbed in an incident that nearly killed you and if you hadn’t got medical intervention and treatment in hospital I’m sure you would have died,” Judge Rose said.
The judge said he had read 230 pages of reports about Grant’s condition which left him in no doubt he suffered with a number of huge personal problems. The stroke had made matters ’10 times worse than it might otherwise have been’, he added.
“Grant was given a suspended prison sentence of two years”.There was no order for costs and no application made for a Proceeds of Crime timetable.
After the hearing, Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks prey on people who are financially vulnerable.
“We hope the sentencing today offers reassurance to the local community that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will do everything in our power to keep victims safe and bring perpetrators to justice.
We urge anyone who has taken out a loan, received no paperwork and who may have been threatened or treated this way to seek specialist support on the Stop Loan Sharks 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222.