Burslem man jailed for blackmailing lottery winner
A DRUG addict who blackmailed a lottery winner into handing over thousands of pounds in cash has been jailed.
Harun Miah, aged 31, forced the National Lottery winner to part with £16,000 over a two-week period, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutor David Jackson said the victim had won a 'significant' amount of money about 10 years before Miah began sending him texts in 2010.
"He had elected not to attract publicity but word had got out in the locality," said Mr Jackson.
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In September that year somebody contacted him by text and a follow-up message was sent on September 23.
Mr Jackson said the man spoke to a friend and the two of them dialled the number and talked with the sender.
"He recognised the voice as somebody who worked at a car wash," said Mr Jackson. "The voice on the phone, the defendant, was accusing the victim of an offence. He demanded £3,500 initially, enforcing the demand by saying he was part of a gypsy gang."
The court heard the victim was scared and paid the £3,500. But later that day Miah made another demand, this time for £1,500, which was again paid.
Three days later Miah demanded a further £2,000. The victim handed over £1,000 but Miah said he wanted another £1,000 and the man paid £1,500. On October 30 a further demand was made for £10,000. The victim withdrew £3,500.
The victim was told the next day that the blackmailer wanted another £5,000, £1,000 immediately with the rest by the end of the week. The cash was handed over taking the total to £16,000 between October 23 and November 5.
Miah made a further demand on November 9 which led to the victim informing the police, who traced the defendant through the texts. Miah admitted he knew the friend (the middle man) but answered no comment to all questions. But he later pleaded guilty to blackmail. The court heard there was insufficient evidence to charge the friend.
Miah, of Exmouth Grove, Burslem, was on bail for the blackmail when he assaulted a woman by burning her with a lit cigarette. He denied assault occasioning actual bodily harm but was convicted by a jury in October.
Joanne Wallbanks, mitigating, said Miah's drug problem was out of control. She said: "It is a sad example of the state people get in when they start taking drugs."
Judge Granville Styler described the blackmail as a 'wicked and callous' crime and jailed Miah for three years and eight months.
He told the defendant: "You sent threatening text messages demanding money and the threats were very unpleasant."