Jail for Hapton drug smuggler after blackmail plot

Lee Morgan has been sentenced for blackmail.
Lee Morgan has been sentenced for blackmail.

A Hapton man who was jailed for 16 years in 2007 for his role a drug-smuggling operation has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for an “unusual” blackmail.

Lee Morgan (47), who used to live in Langdale Road, had already admitted the £100,000 blackmail of Murray John Dawson and was sentenced at Burnley Crown Court last Friday.

Rachel Cooper (prosecuting) told the court Morgan had discovered Mr Dawson, who he had known for over 20 years, had had a sexual relationship with his wife of 30 years.

Miss Cooper said Mr Dawson had built his home on land sold to him by the Morgan family.

Burnley Crown Court heard that, on May 17th last year, Morgan met Mr Dawson and wanted an explanation and an apology.

Miss Cooper said money was not the motive and Morgan wanted “emotional suffering”. Figures up to £100,000 were mentioned, the court heard, but Morgan had said at one stage that “double that would not be enough”.

On another occasion, on May 26th last year, Morgan phoned Mr Dawson’s and issued threats, including one to put him in a wheelchair.

The court was told Morgan had made the threats while out of prison on day-release to work as part of a programme to help him re-integrate with society ahead of his release on licence in May this year.

Keith Harrison (defending) admitted Morgan had broken the trust of those who released him to work for the day in what was “quite and unusual blackmail”.

However, Mr Harrison said the question of money was not Morgan’s idea, and it was Mr Dawson who suggested financial reward.

Mr Harrison said Morgan “wanted revenge” but said: “He simply wanted to make the complainant suffer emotionally as he had done.” He said the threats lasted for two to three weeks but “must have seemed longer” for Mr Dawson.

Mr Harrison told the court Morgan knew the conversation was being recorded and even accepted a cheque, highlighting his disregard for the money being paid in such a traceable way.

Concluding, Mr Harrison said Morgan “bitterly regrets” making the “unpleasant” threats and had phoned back twice to apologise.

He said everything Morgan was looking forward to getting back to had changed, his marriage was over and the idea of setting up a building business was finished.

Sentencing, Judge Beverly Lunt said the “real menaces” and “nasty and repeated threats” would have been “extremely worrying” for his victim.