Northamptonshire teenager forced at gunpoint to beg family over the phone to pay off drug debt, court hears

A Northamptonshire teenager was held at gunpoint and beaten for hours in a bid by two men to blackmail him into paying a £70 drug debt.

Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday (February 14) how the 'terrified' 17-year-old victim was forced to make phone call after phone call to family and friends to beg them for money, and feared he would be killed if he did not find the cash.

The court heard how James Tilbury, 25, held the teenager at gunpoint and in a spare bedroom for three hours and beat him while demanding the money. Another man, James Price, 26, from Irthlingborough, was also in the room but did not take part in the beatings or threats.

The ordeal in September 2015 began when Price and Tilbury followed and pestered the victim for hours to stump up the £70. It even saw Price take the teenager to a shop to sell his phone and encouraging him to break into his foster mum’s home and find more items to sell.

The court heard how Tilbury pistolwhipped his teenage victim and held him at gunpoint.

The court heard how Tilbury pistolwhipped his teenage victim and held him at gunpoint.

Then, at around 5pm, the pair 'acted nice' and invited the teenager to a house to smoke cannabis with them.

"There, things changed," said His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey in sentencing. "You pushed him into a spare bedroom. [Tilbury] pulled out a gun and showed the victim the magazine to show it was loaded.

"He then held the gun close to the victim's head. The victim has described how he felt like he was going to be killed."

The victim was then handed a phone and forced to ring his family and friends over and over and beg them for money to pay the £70 debt.

They even suggested giving the victim the gun and making him rob a shop to get the cash.

The judge said: "Tilbury slapped and punched him and pistolwhipped him with the gun.

"His foster mum describes hearing him scream when he called her and how he told her 'mum, they've got a gun'."

However, after three hours at their mercy, the pair briefly left the room to go to the living room - giving the teenager the chance to escape and run.

He ran to a nearby friend's house who let the 'terrified, physically white' victim hide under her stairs while she called the police, even as Tilbury and Price banged on the door.

Tilbury later pleaded guilty to blackmail, possessing a firearm and assault, while Price pleaded guilty to blackmail.

The judge said: "It must have been terrifying. The victim has described how he still has nightmares and had to move out of Northamptonshire.

"This is so serious it can only be met with an immediate custodial sentence."

Price was handed a three-and-a-half year jail sentence. Tilbury will be sentenced in Northampton Crown Court on Monday (February 18).