A drug dealer who made threatening demands for repayment from an indebted ‘customer’ is starting a five-year prison sentence.
Nick Lightfoot demanded increasingly larger sums when payments were missed for the supply of cocaine from November last year to this August. Durham Crown Court was told the customer was buying up to £1,400-worth of the Class A drug a week from Lightfoot.
Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said after losing his job, the complainant fell into arrears and the debt soon reached £8,000, but when further repayments were missed, it rose to £25,000. Menacing threats were used to “encourage” the user to meet his debts.
It reached the stage where a message was sent to the victim, which included a photograph of his girlfriend's car at a petrol filling station, with the added comment: “Money today. There are eyes on you, today.” Mr Dryden was told the victim had turned to his parents for financial support to help pay off his debts, to the extent that their own funds began to dry up. Eventually, his father decided they should inform the police.
Lightfoot was identified and arrested on August 25, but he made no reply to questioning in the course of interview. He was subsequently charged with blackmail and, recently, also of supplying cocaine, an estimated £25,000 worth, over the ten-month period. The 26-year-old defendant, of Moor Crescent, Ludworth, near Durham, admitted both counts at a hearing on Monday (October 10).
Having previously been remanded into custody, Lightfoot appeared at Friday’s (October 14) sentencing hearing via video link from nearby Durham Prison. The court heard he has only one previous conviction, for an unrelated matter, and a caution for possessing cocaine. Tom Mitchell, mitigating, said it could be looked at as a case of, “drug dealing, with the aggravating feature of blackmail.”
Having submitted letters to the court from the defendant and his family, Mr Mitchell said: “To his credit, they reflect remorse, which was backed up by his timely ‘guilty’ pleas.
By Bruce Unwin - The Northern Echo/Oct. 17, 2016
Photo: Durham Police
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