Two raiders who forced their victims at gunpoint to open cryptocurrency accounts in a bid to covertly siphon off cash have been jailed.
Jordan Barrett, 23, and Ted Richards, 24, stormed into a house in Carlisle, Cumbria, in February 2020, wearing a crash helmet and a mask.
One of them brandished a starter pistol and the other a knife as photographs of their two victims were taken along with proof of their identification.
The victims’ personal details were then used to attempt to transfer £3,500 online into a cryptocurrency account.
Barrett and Richards also stole a Microsoft Xbox and an iPhone from the property as they warned the two housemates not to call the police and told them to "keep their ears open" as they went on to discharge the pistol in the street.
Their attempt to convert the cash into Bitcoin was scuppered though when the matter was reported and monies did not go through as the exchange platform they used had a 24-hour authentication process.
Sentencing at Carlisle Crown Court on Monday, Judge Nicholas Barker told the pair they had subjected their victims to a "terrifying ordeal" which lasted more than two hours.
He said although the weapon used in the incident on the late evening of 10 February was not capable of firing a shot, the victims believed it was real and that they were in grave danger.
The background to the robbery, said the judge, was Barrett seeking retribution against a third man who lived at the property and who he believed dangerously drove a vehicle which led to the serious injury of his girlfriend.
But Judge Barker said the defendants pressed on with their revenge mission and chose not to desist when they discovered their target was not home alone.
Both victims are suffering "significant heightened anxiety" as a result of their actions, he added.
A complex and lengthy investigation was launched by detectives and financial investigators following the incident.
When officers searched Barrett’s home in Red Bank Square, Carlisle, they discovered the starting pistol – bought online for £150 – and a bullet press for blank shells and also blank ammunition.
Judge Barker said he accepted both defendants’ declarations of remorse were genuine.
Neither had previous convictions and both told the judge they would not trouble the courts again.
Richards, of Empire Square, Southwark, London, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to robbery and false imprisonment.
Barrett, who entered guilty pleas at a later date, was jailed for six years and nine months for the same offences.
Following sentence, Det Supt Jenny Beattie, of Cumbria Police, said: "The determination shown by the investigation team has been unwavering in carrying out the inquires which has led to a successful conviction.
"The team’s efforts are particularly impressive given the circumstances of how the criminals forced the victims to create cryptocurrency accounts, so they could attempt to evade identification, is believed to be a first to be put before a court in this country."
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