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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Judge rules blackmail accused has no case to answer

The trial of a man accused of blackmail has collapsed after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Colin Neale, 30, of Lister Terrace, Great Broughton, near Cockermouth, had denied trying to obtain money with menaces when he appeared at Carlisle Crown Court.

After several witnesses had given evidence, defence barrister Peter Warne applied to Recorder John Corless saying there was no case to answer.

The judge agreed and directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.

His accuser, a Maryport woman, had given evidence at the start of the trial and said that a hammer wielding man had burst into her home demanding money.

She said she was in her kitchen when she heard a knock at the door, in May last year and when she opened it a man, who was not the accused, asked a question.

She said that she told him “no” and that he lived next door. She said: “There was just one person and I did not recognise him. All I can remember is that he had a hoody on.”

The next thing she knew was that a second man had barged into her home pushing her over.

She said: “Someone came in from the left and pushed me over my sofa. He was waving a hammer about. It was a different person and I didn’t recognise him.

“He was wearing a luminous yellow work jacket and a woolly hat. He started waving the hammer about saying ‘I want my money’.”

She added that she was on the floor at the time, with the man standing over her, and during the scuffle she suffered injuries to her left elbow and shin.

The court heard that one of her neighbours went to a nearby telephone box to call for the police.

She said: “I sat with them until the police came. [When I went back into the house I saw] my phone was smashed up on the floor.”

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