Two former repossession agents turned up to a Nelson man's farm demanding $140,000 after being ordered by a prison inmate to get back money he had buried in the rural backyard.
Terry Jones, Richie Clutterbuck and Leon Delshannon Turner were handed prison terms for their parts in the incident after a jury in the High Court at Christchurch last month found them guilty of blackmail.
In his sentencing notes, Justice Robert Dobson said Jones, 43, obtained permission from the Nelson farmer to bury some cash on his property.
The farmer did not know exactly how much money had been stashed, but it was likely to be in the range of $30,000 and $50,000.
After the cash was initially buried, sums of cash were added and removed.
The location of the money was meant to stay a secret, but others eventually became aware of its location.
During this time Jones was sent to prison and the farmer was one day pressed to dig up the money and deliver it to someone else.
Jones initially tried to pressure him from prison to account for the money, but eventually arranged for Clutterbuck, whom Jones met in prison and knew was to be released soon, to threaten him to get the cash.
Clutterbuck, 49, along with his driver Leon Turner, 37, went to the farmer's property demanding up to $140,000.
Turner and Clutterbuck had previously worked together as repossession agents for Loan Shop.
"I accept that you [Clutterbuck] did not raise your voice during the meeting. I accept also that the terms in which the threat was made were indirect. But those points do not deprive your conduct of seriously threatening character," Justice Dobson said in his sentencing notes.
It was eventually agreed that the farmer would lodge a caveat against his property to get $100,000 to Clutterbuck.
Victim impact statements from the farmer and his wife revealed the threats had been ongoing.
"I also accept that [the victim] was not a particularly vulnerable victim, but nor could he go anywhere near matching how heavy the presence of...Clutterbuck and Turner would have been in the rough and tumble of conduct where people were taking the law into their own hands and threatening physical violence," Justice Dobson said.
He said Jones was the initiator and nothing would have happened without his request to Clutterbuck.
He was sentenced to two years and six months' imprisonment.
Clutterbuck, who Justice Dobson said was the principal offender, was sentenced to two years and nine months' imprisonment.
Turner was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.