Blackmailer jailed over threats to Leeds family

David Lee.
David Lee.

A MUM and her child were threatened by knife wielding thugs in their own home in Leeds as part of a drugs vendetta, a court heard.

David Lee ordered men to be sent to the family home in Hunslet after a row over a cannabis deal.

Lee, 53, was jailed for two years, nine months, after pleading guilty to blackmail.

Leeds Crown Court heard Lee carried out the offending during a week-long period in July last year before his rival went to the police as he feared for his family’s safety.

Duncan Ritchie, prosecuting, described how Lee became angry with the other man after he sold cannabis which belonged to him. The other man then kept the money, thought to be around £4,500.

Lee arranged for two men to go to the man’s home. They turned up at the address armed with a kitchen knife and a lock knife while the man’s partner and young daughter were in the property.

The woman was then told to contact her partner on his mobile phone and one of the men ordered him to return the cannabis “or go through serious pain.”

Lee’s rival’s mother’s home was then targeted the next day when an explosive device was used to blow off the wing panel of her car.

After that incident the man was contacted and asked: “Did you hear the bang? That was just a warning.”

The man made contact with Lee and told him he had no money. Lee told him that he wanted £6,000 or he would be hospitalised and said his car was going to be taken as a deposit.

He ordered the man to put £1,000 in his bank account on a weekly basis until the amount was paid off. He was also warned that he would have to pay interest if the debt was not settled on time.

Lee was arrested after police were contacted and they discovered text messages on his mobile phone linking him to the threats and demands for cash. They also found evidence of internet searches which had been made for his rival’s home.

Lee, of Church Road, Trimdon, County Durham, had sent messages to the men who carried out the threats of violence to say he was “impressed” with their work.

Lee was also found to have sent a message to the men saying: “Get his money and then after he has paid knack him.” Mr Ritchie said the message indicated that Lee was intent on causing his rival physical injury even after the debt had been settled.

Messages had also been sent by the men to Lee referring to a weapon they had prepared which was “sharp enough to cut paper.”

Adrian Dent, mitigating, said Lee’s behaviour had been out of character and said it was an usual case of blackmail.

He said: “He seems to have allowed his anger at effectively being ripped off in relation to this cannabis to get the better of him.

Mr Dent said Lee was a family man who had worked for many years in the construction industry. The barrister said it was inevitable that his client would have to go prison.

Jailing Lee, Recorder Simon Kealey said: “There was clearly a significant amount of planning involved with this. It was a sophisticated offence involving a number of individuals and there were repeated demands.”