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Brutal loan shark took victims’ DWP money, doubled debt and left woman begging on the street

A loan shark who relentlessly tricked his vulnerable victims into handing over their benefit money by threatening them with violence and accompanying them to ATMs – has been jailed for eight years and six months.

Karl Marron, 33, pressured a victim to apply for a high-end Mercedes coupe as part of his mobility scheme; and told another man he would break his legs if he didn’t pay.

Marron – also known as Karl Rothschild – even moved into the home of a couple he said owed him money, after the woman borrowed £20 from him and the debt skyrocketed.

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Marron indulged the couple, lending more and doubling the repayments, so they could never afford to pay him back.

The woman eventually turned herself in to police, after receiving warnings when she was caught begging for money on the streets of Middlesbrough.

Teesside Crown Court on Thursday heard that Marron had even accompanied the man to Lloyds Bank in Middlesbrough, to ensure he got cash to hand over. The cashier was so worried that she took the victim to a private room and asked him if he wanted her to call the police.

But prosecutor Tom Mitchell told the court that the victim declined the offer of help, explaining that his wife was at home with the loan shark’s accomplices and that he feared reprisals on her.

Karl Marron, who gives his address as HMP Durham but lived in Middlesbrough before his arrest, was found guilty of four counts of blackmail from June to October 2019; and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, by a jury after a two-week trial.

He pleaded guilty to possession of the Class C drug Zopiclone before his trial began.

Marron’s partner, Katrina Allnatt, 44, of Cliffland Way in Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, after the jury was sworn in for the trial.

Katrina Allnatt outside Teesside Crown Court

Sean Harvey, 52, of Wentworth Street in central Middlesbrough, has been accused of being Marron’s accomplice who held a fake shotgun to a woman’s head when she said she was not could no longer pay. But he was found “not guilty” of possession of a fake firearm with intent to cause fear or violence by the jury.

On Thursday, the court heard that Marron’s first trial had to be halted when two victims were too scared to testify after one of them received a text message on February 8, 2020.

The message claimed to be from one of the other victims and read: ‘Police found out we all lied and I screwed up in court. We won’t get big compensation.’

Police traced the text – which the prosecution said was intended to intimidate victims – to a cell mast in Reading, near the home of Marron’s partner Katrina Allnatt.

CCTV showed Allnatt’s child buying a top-up voucher for the phone and the child was arrested.

Allnatt was later charged with perverting the course of justice and the court heard she was pressured to send the text by Marron.

Throughout the trial, the jury listened to harrowing testimonies from Marron’s four victims.

Marron loaned the first couple more and more money over the summer of 2019.

The couple lived on DWP benefits, but Marron kept increasing the amount he owed her, and when they couldn’t pay it back, he bullied them into asking for a car for him on their right. to mobility.

When the request took too long, Marron told the terrified couple they owed him £2,750 for “wasting his time”. He took the keys to their house and moved in with them, telling them: “You have to pay me now I live with you”.

He even gave probation his new address as he was electronically tagged after being accused of perverting the course of justice. Between June and October 2019, the couple donated £4,900.

The court heard that Marron had ‘bled the couple dry’ and left them to live in ‘Dickensian penury’ as they feared they would not be able to pay the rent. The woman started begging for money in the streets.

Marron then moved on to his second victim – who initially borrowed £50. Marron doubled the amount the man owed to £100 and kept increasing the debt until it reached £1,700.

He then bullied the victim for seven weeks, forcing the man to apply for a £32,000 Mercedes CLA 200 AMG Coupe, in cosmos black with leather seats, through the mobility scheme, in order to clear the debt of £1,700.

Marron threatened to break his third victim’s legs if he didn’t repay £480, an amount that had risen from a £20 loan.

Loanshark had a ‘difficult upbringing’

Defending Marron, Michael Shilliday told the court that his client suffered from a frozen shoulder which had not been treated in prison; and that he had already spent 293 days under curfew.

Mr Shilliday said Marron had an ‘extraordinarily difficult upbringing’ and the court could not be sure of the exact amount Marron took from his four victims as they had given conflicting evidence during the trial.

The defense also disputed evidence heard that Marron’s first victims – the couple – who said their lease was threatened because they were unable to pay rent, after Marron paid.

But Judge Christopher Smith rejected some of Mr Shilliday’s arguments, saying: “The victims were vulnerable and because of that they were easily confused.

“They gave conflicting accounts because they couldn’t always remember the details.”

‘Like a cuckoo clock’

Karl Brown
Karl Brown

Sentencing Marron to eight years and six months in prison, Judge Smith told him: “You attempted to mislead the jury with fake tears and totally dishonest statements of distress.

“You are, in my opinion, a cruel and callous man who seeks to corrupt others.

“You used your sizable physical size and carefully crafted reputation to leave your victims no choice but to meet your demands.

“You have entered the lives of your first victims, lending a small amount of money to help them until the next benefit payment arrives.

“You doubled the money and doubled again. You sowed confusion and fear and you dishonestly reaped a financial reward.

“And since the cuckoo takes over the nest, you have settled in with them. They didn’t dare complain.

“You were targeting vulnerable people that you could easily scare and manipulate. The pressure you put on them broke their spirits.

“A lady felt compelled to beg for money because you were taking her benefits.

“Your victims have been left in misery and fear. Each of these blackmail offenses represents a cold and ruthless exploitation of vulnerable people.”

Katrina Allnatt was sentenced to 11 months in prison, suspended for 18 months; 100 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation.

Marron was subject to an indefinite injunction to protect four of his victims.

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