Father of shamed Leeds property tycoon Simon Morris speaks out EXCLUSIVE

Simon Morris.

Simon Morris.

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The father of Simon Morris has told the Yorkshire Evening Post that his son’s life has been “ruined” after a jury found him guilty of a £100,000 blackmail plot.

In an exclusive interview, Brian Morris, 58, right, who maintains his 34-year-old son was innocent, also said the family would fight the sentence.

Simon, formerly of Ling Lane in Scarcroft, was told by the judge at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday that he would be locked up for his part in a plot to get his hands on the six-figure sum from Leeds estate agent Hedley Manton.

A six-day trial heard Morris sent his bodyguard, 21-stone Johnathon Ashworth, to threaten Mr Manton, who was told he would be stabbed unless he parted with the cash.

Morris and Ashworth were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Both will be sentenced on October 24.

Brian, who has five children, said: “Nobody slept last night. It’s really, really upsetting. All we can do is pull together and help each other.

“We are a very close family. Whatever it takes we’ll do.”

He added: “I am devastated for Simon, his wife [Helen] and his four young children.

“Helen collapsed in court, his 30-year-old brother [Darren] was crying. The entire family is devastated.

“[The jury decision] has ruined his life.

“It’s so serious, such a serious, serious crime.

“The time you can get, the sentence - and this is for something that hasn’t happened.”

He added: “If there’s a way to appeal obviously we’ll be looking at it. It isn’t fair what’s happened.”

Simon is said to be so shell-shocked by the result that he “can’t even talk about it”.

His dad has no idea where he is, and his mobile phone had been disconnected.

“Nobody, not the reporters, the barristers or the police expected Simon to be found guilty,” said his dad.

“The police had gone home and when the jury returned their verdict in 40 minutes we were sure it was going to be ‘not guilty’.

“If somebody does something wrong they are entitled to be punished, of course, but Simon’s done nothing wrong.

“Even if the man [Ashworth] had gone asking Hedley for the money that Simon was owed, can you not ask for your money back?

“Is this the state of the world today. It’s madness.”

Simon and Helen Morris, 32, have four children - Bobbi, six months, Marcus, three, Ciara, four and Teilor, eight.

The £100,000 was at the heart of a civil dispute between Morris and Mr Manton.

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