Sunderland businessman had leg broken after feud turned brutal, court told

Bernard Maw and Lee Wales (right) outside Newcastle Crown Court.

Bernard Maw and Lee Wales (right) outside Newcastle Crown Court.

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A BUSINESSMAN was plunged into a violent blackmail plot after a land deal turned sour, a court heard.

The company boss claims his leg was snapped during a brutal beating and he was warned he would be killed after a business arrangement with landowner Bernard Maw fell through.

The alleged victim told jurors at Newcastle Crown Court he was warned he would be shot if he drafted in help from Ernie Bewick, whose firm Bewick Securities protects his companies, and he would be put in a car boot and never brought back if he called police.

But the police were contacted and detectives were able to record a series of threatening calls demanding cash from the businessman, who owns four companies in Sunderland.

Prosecutors claim Maw, of Silksworth Hall Drive, Sunderland, was the “mastermind” behind the plot who drafted in bullying “enforcer” Liam Coatman, 24, of Hatfield Place, Peterlee, to extract money from the victim.

Maw, 59, denies conspiracy to blackmail between February 11 and February 18 along with Lee Wales, 25, of Hatfield Place, Peterlee, said to have been the enforcer’s assistant.

Maw and Wales are being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

Prosecutor James Adkin told the court the businessmen fell out over a plot of land Maw had for rent.

The alleged victim had agreed to lease it but then backed out after a disagreement over terms and conditions. Both men claimed the other owed him money, the court heard.

The alleged victim told jurors he had gone to Maw’s property in 2009 to sort out the row.

But he said: “He punched me in the face. I fell to the ground and hit my head. He continuously punched me, he ripped the top of my ear.

“I was unconscious. I had black eyes and my leg was snapped in half.”

The businessman told jurors he needed surgery to have pins fitted to his leg and spend six months on crutches.

He said Maw sent someone to his door making demands for money while he was recovering but the person was not threatening.

It was in February the alleged blackmail plot got under way and he was threatened with terrifying violence, the court heard.

The businessman told jurors he was at one of his company sites when enforcer Coatman turned up demanding £23,000.

He said: “He was a total, 100 per cent bully. He looked up and saw I have a security company, 24-hour security called Bewick Securities.

“He said ‘don’t be getting them because me and a 20 squad will come back and shoot the lot of them but we would shoot you first’.

“He said ‘listen to me, I’ve just come out after doing an eight stretch.

“The bloke that put me there got put in a boot and he never came back, you know what I’m saying’.

“I was absolutely terrified.

“His threat was to shoot me if I brought in Bewick securities or put me in the boot if I phone the police.”

The court heard the victim did contact the police, who recorded a series of threatening phone calls, and Maw and Wales were arrested.

Both men deny conspiracy to blackmail.

The trial continues