THREE yobs face jail after threatening to bomb the Subway sandwich shop on Billericay High Street and kill the owner’s pregnant wife and son.
Joseph Reno, 30, was bombarded with phone calls by the “bored” trio who swore at him, racially abused him, told him to leave the country and demanded £1,000 cash.
Stephanie Copperwheat, 20, and Jordan Stubbings, 19, both of Tate Close, Laindon, and Sean Gaynor, 19, of Westfield, Laindon, told the police officers they made the “prank calls”
because they thought it would be “funny”.
But Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Reno, who owns the Subway, was terrified to leave his family, walk down the street after dark, or be alone at home or work.
The trio, who are all unemployed, were each sentenced to four months in prison, but were released on bail after a last-minute appeal.
The court heard how Copperwheat was soworried she would be jailed, she attempted suicide on Saturday night.
She became hysterical in the dock, as her sentence was delivered, and shouted, “I am so sorry, it was only a joke”.
The court heard, the sickening calls began in February when Mr Reno received a call from the three defendants.
The girl said she wanted to have sex with him, racially abused him and then swore at him.
On February 17, he received another three calls, asking him for £1,000.
Copperwheat told Mr Reno if he didn’t give them the cash they would attack him and kill his wife and young son.
The next day he received another call from the three, in which they said: “You are stealing our jobs, give us the money and we will leave you alone.”
They then threatened to bomb his business.
At one point in the conversation Copperwheat said one of the group used to work at the sandwich shop and suggested they had been unfairly dismissed.
Copperwheat then asked for £500 to be taken to Cosmos Takeaway at Basildon Bus Station, and then for £100 to be taken to a bus stop in Laindon.
Mr Reno told the group he would meet them in Laindon if they left him alone – however he did not.
Mr Reno reported the calls to police.
They had all been made from a withheld number, however police scientists managed to trace the phone to Sean Gaynor.
He was brought in for interview, confessed and told officers Copperwheat and Stubbings had also been involved.
The court heard Gaynor has learning difficulties, Copperwheat has mental health problems and Stubbings has a brain injury.
Gaynor told officers he did not realise the upset the calls would have caused Mr Reno and added he suffered long termmemory-loss.
He said theywere bored and thought the calls would be funny.
Dee Kaur, mitigating, told the court heard clients had: “Low intelligence and morality”, but they had not intended to harmMr Reno.
The trio admitted racially aggravated harassment, with fear of violence at an earlier hearing.
VICTIM TELLS HOW ORDEAL LEFT HIM SCARED TO LEAVE HIS WIFE AND SON ALONE
A MAN who was bombarded with calls from three yobs, threatening to bomb his shop and kill his family, said the ordeal nearly ruined his life.
Joseph Reno said: “They left me in fear of my own personal safety and that my wife and young son may have been hurt.
“I never wanted to be alone or to leave my wife and threeyear- old son alone.
“I was constantly looking over my shoulder, looking at people’s hands when I walked down the street in case they were carrying a weapon.
“I was constantly watching people in my shop, wondering if they were here to harm me or damage my business.
“The police had to put a red flag on my address which meant any 999 calls would receive an immediate response.”
He said the constant verbal abuse, name calling and general nasty actions of the three caused him and his wife many sleepless nights.
He added: “I was scared to leave the house, scared to stay at home.
“We have not felt safe for months, this has had a deep impact on both of us.
“My wife is pregnant and the stress of this has made her ill. The people who did this should have realised what they were doing.
“This has had an impact financially because I have had to pay staff to stay late at night with me at the shop in case anything happens.
“They said I should not be here in this country and I was taking their jobs.
“They made me feel like a second class citizen and I have never felt like that in
LAST-MINUTE APPEAL AT COURT LEADS TO BAIL FOR GUILTY TRIO
THERE were dramatic scenes in Basildon Magistrates as the three were sentenced.
Unemployed Stephanie Copperwheat, 20, of Tate Close, Laindon, became hysterical as magistrates sentenced her.
She was comforted by codefendant Jordon Stubbings, 19, while Sean Gaynor put his head in his hands.
Moments after the sentence was passed Dee Kaur, mitigating, told the court she wished to lodge an appeal against the sentence and ordered the court to hear a bail application pending an appeal at Basildon Crown Court.
Mrs Kaur told the court Copperwheat had a history of mental health problems and just six days prior to the hearing had attempted suicide by taking an overdose.
She told the court that Gaynor was suspected to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Stubbings had short-term memory loss, caused by a brain injury in childhood.
Magistrates then made a U-turn on their decision to jail the three immediately and allowed them bail, pending an appeal.
Their bail conditions ban them from visiting the Subway, in Billericay High Street, or contacting their victim Joseph Reno.
The court will be heard at Basildon Crown Court on a date and time to be confirmed.