£½m extortion assault denied during trial

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ARMED police hunted three men after a middleman in a £9m Middle East property deal was attacked, a court was told.

Mohammed Asjad (41), of Reedley Road, Reedley; Mark Putterill (37), of Colne Road, Brierfield; and Ian Williams (50), of Station Road, Padiham, deny assault, robbery and attempted extortion. The three are appearing at Edinburgh High Court in a lengthy trial following an alleged attack on international businessman Richard Cox (60) during which Asjad demanded more £500,000 of his money back after the property deal went sour.

Mr Cox told the trial he had just finished praying when three men force their way in to his detached home in Dunfermline. They had arrived in a Series 5 BMW with a personalised number plate, ARN5Y.

He was forced to kneel in front of Asjad, who asked “Remember me?” The High Court was told Indian-born Mr Cox was running a private equity firm in the United Arab Emirates and was asked to use his influence with the ruling elite to get Asjad a slice of a lucrative property development, Dana Island, being planned in Ras al-Khaimah. Mr Cox said Asjad told him: “Now you have got to pay me back all the money I gave you.”

He said did not know the two men accompanying Asjad, who used to own the Keirby Hotel, Burnley. One of two men accused Mr Cox of having his fingers in the till, picked up a pair of garden secateurs and said: “Boss, let me cut his fingers off.”

Mr Cox said he was hit on the head with “something metallic”, and with blood pouring down his face was ordered sign a contract agreeing to pay more than 3m dirhams – worth more than £500,000 – within three weeks.

The BMW was stopped on the M6 north of Preston after police were alerted. An armed response had been involved in the hunt because of fears the alleged attackers might be carrying a knife and sickle.

A brass knuckle-duster was found in Williams’s coat. He later told the police officer who had stopped the car: “I wish to say I have been debt collecting for Arnie from a male called Richard in Scotland.” Williams also had a passport in his pocket, in the name of Richard Cox.

Proceeding