Man jailed for 2-years for blackmail - Dunstable

12/04/2012

A man who travelled up from Lambeth in London to collect a £20,000 debt from a Dunstable pizza shop was jailed for 2 years on Thursday, 12 April 2012.

Phillip Watson, 47, was told to collect the money from Fast and Fresh Pizza in High Street North with the promise that he would get regular employment.

When he arrived in the shop at 10 o'clock at night he told a member of staff Naveed Ashraf to give him the money, Luton Crown Court was told.

He handed Mr Ashraf a mobile phone and an accomplice came on the line making a threat that the shop would blown up unless the cash was handed over.

Mr Ashraf called the owner who told him to ring the police. Officers were called and Watson was arrested, said Jonathan Loades for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Watson of Shore House, Willard Estate, Lambeth was convicted of blackmailing Naveed Ashraf on 12 December 2010. He had previous convictions going back to 1985.

Gelega King, defending, said Watson had been acting as a middle man and had been "duped" by an associate into travelling to Dunstable to collect a private debt.  He said Watson believed if he had been successful he would have obtained legitimate work for the man's debt collection business.

"All he had been told was to go to the Pizza shop and get the money.

"The people in the pizza shop were not frightened by him. The police were only called when one member of staff called the owner, who said call the police. He was visiting the area legitimately," said Mr King.

He said Watson suffers from kidney disease and has other health issues.

Judge Stuart Bridge jailed him for 2 years. He said: "The offence is so serious it must be reflected by an immediate prison sentence."

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