Muscle man denies part in £½m extortion demand

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AN EX-BOXER has denied taking part in a “cowardly” attack on a businessman known as The Fake Sheikh over a Middle East property deal that went wrong.

Double-glazing fitter Mark Putterill (37) said he travelled to Scotland as a friend of businessman Mohammed Asjad who claimed Richard Cox (60), director general of Fortune Super Equity Management in Dubai, owed him a business debt.

Mr Cox has told a trial at Edinburgh High Court he was beaten up by three men. He claims they threatened to cut off his fingers with secateurs and ordered him to sign a contract promising to hand over Arab Emirate currency worth about half a million pounds while his face was covered in blood after he was hit over the head with something metallic.

Putterill, of Colne Road, Brierfield, Asjad (41), of Reedley Road, Reedley, and Ian Williams (50), of Station Road, Padiham, deny assault, robbery and attempted extortion.

In the witness box, Putterill said there had been no violence at Mr Cox’s home on the outskirts of Dunfermline, Fife.

He told police he was taken to a posh house as “a physical presence”. He stood 5ft 11in, weighed in at 17½ stone and trained in the gym twice a day.

Asked why he had a knuckle duster in his coat pocket, Putterill said it was for his own protection.

“A lot of people don’t like me,” he said. Putterill said he thought the discussion between Asjad and Mr Cox had been “amicable”, although he had heard raised voices at one point, when he was not in the same room.

He said he was shocked when police armed with Tazer stun guns had stopped Asjad’s personalized silver BMW on the M6 as they drove south towards Preston.

“I thought they had got the wrong car,” he added.