TWO men who stole the life savings of a vulnerable pensioner in a “wicked” blackmail plot have been jailed.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Jamie Longstaff, 24, and Christopher Ryan, 36, intimidated and threatened their victim until he withdrew money from cash machines.

After initially loaning money to the men, the victim, who lived in the same Middlesbrough block of flats as Ryan, was then forced to hand over cash that was never returned.

The court heard how the 67-year-old gave the pair about £4,100 over several months.

Jailing Longstaff to three years and nine months in prison and Ryan to three years, Judge Peter Benson told the men they should both be ashamed of their conduct.

He added: "You treated this gentleman, who because of his age was worthy of your respect, in a wicked and ruthless way, without any compassion.

“You decided that you could take advantage of his vulnerability by milking his bank account of essentially his life savings.

"This is a serious offence of blackmail. You both talked and behaved in such a way that meant he was frightened of you. You exploited his vulnerability and deprived him of his life savings."

The men both admitted the offence of blackmail at an earlier hearing.

Robin Turton, mitigating for Ryan, said his client deeply regretted his actions and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

Rachel Dyson, for Longstaff, said her client had pleaded guilty at a pre-trial hearing.

She added that he had emotional issues that he needed to address.

The court heard Christopher Ryan, formerly of Ayresome Park Road, Middlesbrough but now of no fixed abode, had numerous previous convictions, including burglary.

Jamie Longstaff, of Clive Road, Eston, Middlesbrough, also had a criminal record, including offences involving violence.