A disgruntled painter and decorator who made threats to damage property and harm people has been jailed.

Simon Barrington, 35, was hired by a property developer to do work at two newbuild homes in Little Eversden, South Cambridgeshire, and began work on 12 September last year.

The property developer immediately felt Barrington’s work was of poor quality, and other workers on site found him erratic and lazy.

Barrington claimed the victim –  a firm owner - owed him £4,000 but he responded by saying Barrington’s services were no longer required.

Barrington then claimed he was actually owed £11,000 in materials and labour. These demands became more menacing, with Barrington saying he knew where the victim lived and if he wasn’t paid the money, there would be “forty thousand pounds-worth of damages”.

Another message from Barrington said he would “smash houses up” if he wasn’t paid and would come and collect his paint from the site.

He arrived at the site on September 26 and confronted a labourer, saying if he did not give him the paint he felt he was owed, he would burn buildings down and “mash up” the victim.

The labourer called the firm owner and Barrington demanded to speak to him, attempting to grab the phone.

Barrington made threats to come back and “bring the boys”, before the victim instructed the labourer to give him the paint to stop any further distress or harm.

A few days later, the labourer noticed the words “pay me” had been gouged on the site’s fencing.

In early October, Barrington attended the site again with another man and made further threats.

Barrington was arrested at his home in Ermine Street, Caxton, on 13 October.

On December 1, at Cambridge Crown Court, Barrington was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to blackmail.

DC Ali Kent said: “Barrington’s behaviour was disgraceful so I am glad he has faced justice.

“His threats left the victim and his family, along with workers at the site, feeling incredibly intimidated and has had an impact on them all.”