A WOTTON under Edge man has been jailed for his part in an organised crime group’s blackmail conspiracy.

Andrew Wylde, 50, has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to blackmail and was jailed for two years and two months.

Wylde was part of an organised crime group, of which ten members have now been convicted of offences following two trials held at Bristol Crown Court – which can be reported now after legal restrictions were lifted.

The men were convicted of conspiracy to blackmail and supply class A drugs following investigations carried out by Avon and Somerset Police and the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU).

The Avon and Somerset Police investigation into blackmail conspiracies focused on offences committed in 2017 in which business owners in South Gloucestershire and Bristol were threatened with violence if they did not pay significant sums of money.

DI Adam Bunting, lead officer for Avon and Somerset Police, said: “This crime group used bully-boy tactics to obtain money as part of an illegal debt-collection service.

“They threatened and intimidated in order to make their victims fear for their own safety and the safety of their families.

“One victim was approached while on a golf course by one of the crime group members who was tasked with taking him to a “meeting” with two other members in a nearby car-park.

"One of the offenders told him: ‘I know where you live and I will hurt you and whoever I need to hurt to settle the debt’.

“A second victim was told his house and family would be ‘burned down’ if he didn’t pay a substantial sum of money.

“We used a number of policing tactics to prove links between different members of the crime group and establish who was talking to who and when.

“It was a complex inquiry and we worked closely and effectively with our colleagues in the SW ROCU to expose the criminal activity taking place and bring those engaging in it to justice.

“We know victims of blackmail offences are reticent to speak to the police but I would urge victims not to suffer in silence. I hope these convictions encourage more victims to come forward and have confidence in us to carry out a sensitive and thorough investigation.”

To report any incidents of blackmail, call the police on 101.

Alternatively, the independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form.