Published: 14:19, 22 April 2021
| Updated: 16:28, 22 April 2021
A pet owner was over the moon his beloved dog Peaches had been found safe and well after a terrifying blackmail ordeal.
But moments later received another call from vile trolls demanding a ransom and threatening to kill the Chihuahua.
Lobbyist Peter Carroll, 60, and his family have been through a heartbreaking four days. First Peaches went missing and then scammers threatened to kill her unless they were paid £1,000.
Peaches had escaped Mr Carroll's home, near the village of Peene, near Folkestone, on Sunday - it is suspected through the cat flap.
Along with neighbours, they searched high and low around the surrounding area, and also launched an online appeal to find her.
But the next day, Mr Carroll received a menacing phone call from a blocked number saying they had found Peaches, but would kill her unless Mr Carroll paid them £1,000.
Convinced it was a con, he immediately alerted the police, who are now investigating the attempted blackmail.
The search for nine-year-old Peaches continued, and last night, a man in Ramsgate called Mr Carroll to say he had found her.
It turns out, the man and his family were having a day out in the area when they saw Peaches walking in the street.
They caught her, and tried a few doors to see if she belonged to them.
Without finding her owners, they took Peaches home and kept her safe. They attempted to find her owners but missed the online appeals and articles, until Wednesday when they contacted Mr Carroll.
He said: "We got a phone call last night from a lovely man who had Peaches. They had kept her for three days, fed her and looked after her.
"They had tried to find us but didn't see the appeals until Wednesday.
"We are delighted to have her home. She was a bit shaky; she hasn't had her medication for three days. So she will go to the vets for a check up."
Mr Carroll, who along with Joanna Lumley led a campaign in 2009 for Gurkha soldiers to have the right to settle in the UK, joked Peaches is now "grounded".
But the stress did not end there, as the scammers once again attempted to threaten the family.
Mr Carroll explained: "What is sickening is that the scammers tried to call me again, on Wednesday night, after I knew Peaches was safe and on her way back to us.
"They said 'have you made your mind up yet about the dog' and again threatened to harm her."
The police were alerted once again.
Mr Carroll added: "The police have continued to be brilliant. And I am so thankful to our neighbours, who have walked miles in the hunt for Peaches, plus everyone who has helped spread the word."
Kent Police say the investigation continues.