Three men on trial accused of blackmail after works van set alight

Three men have gone on trial accused of being part of a conspiracy to commit blackmail against a Calderdale garage owner whose works van was set alight in an arson attack last year.

Thursday, 3rd September 2015, 7:01 pm

The complainant had been accused of carrying out a “dodgy” MOT on an ice cream van a few days before the arson attack, court heard today (Thursday).

The garage owner, who operates premises in the Hipperholme area, was said to have received a phone call last September about the ice cream van from an “aggressive” caller with a Lancastrian accent.

Prosecutor Michael Greenhalgh told a jury at Bradford Crown Court that the caller allegedly told the complainant:”I’ve bought an ice cream van you MOT’d. It’s full of faults and I want my money back.”

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When complainant said the caller should go back to the person he bought the van from, but the man allegedly told him:”If you don’t pay I’ll burn your garage down.”

A few days later a Renault Kangoo vehicle, which was parked up outside the garage premises, was set on fire at about 11pm.

Mr Greenhalgh said the vehicle, worth about £2000, was effectively written off and the complainant received a further call from a man saying he had carried out the arson.

The caller allegedly told the garage owner if he didn’t get £3000 by the end of the day he would come back and set fire to the premises and all the vehicles there.

The complainant was told to pay the money into a specific bank account, but he alerted the police.

Mr Greenhalgh said the police inquiries linked the phone calls to the Congleton area of Cheshire.

Following the arrest of Dominick Lattlay-Fottfoy, also known as Noonan, the police allegedly discovered phone contact between him and a co-accused Anthony Breame.

Mr Greenhalgh alleged that analysis of the phones indicated that Mr Breame’s mobile phone had travelled from Manchester on the night of the arson attack and was about a mile and a half from Hipperholme at 10.50pm.

He said the inference the Crown sought to put before the jury was that Lattlay-Fattfoy and Breame were responsible for the vehicle being set on fire outside the garage.

During police interviews Lattlay-Fottfoy, 51, of Wilbraham Road, Congleton, denied any knowledge of the offences and denied making any calls to the garage.

He said other people had access to his phone and he didn’t own the ice cream van.

Breame, 27, of Marion Street, Oldham, said he had never been to Halifax.

He said Lattlay-Fottfoy was his uncle and any contact between them was entirely innocent.

A third defendant John Cooper, 32, of Chiltern Drive, Hastings, did not answer any police questions.

Lattlay-Fottfoy and Breame have both denied the arson charge and all three defendants have pleaded not guilty to being part of a conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Lattlay-Fottfoy has also pleaded not guilty to doing acts tending or intended to pervert the course of justice.

The trial continues