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Traveller admits blackmailing brewery boss for £20,000

A traveller admitted blackmailing the boss of a brewery after his group set up camp on its premises.

Thomas Ward, 43, pleaded guilty to demanding £20,000 from Thwaites Brewery CEO Richard Bailey with menaces on or between May 26 and 28.

Ahead of a scheduled trial at Preston Crown Court today, Thomas Ward, of Aspull Common, Leigh, also admitted conspiracy to burgle Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn, Lancashire, and conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

Thomas Ward, 43, of Aspull, near Wigan, admitted blackmail, conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to commit criminal damage

John Ward, 33, admitted the conspiracy offences

Patrick Ward, 32, is accused of the same conspiracy offences

John Ward 33 (left) admitted the conspiracy offences. Patrick Ward (right), 32, is accused of the same conspiracy offences. His trial will proceed in his absence tomorrow

Two other defendants, John Ward, 33, also of Aspull Common, and a 17-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also admitted the conspiracy offences.

A fourth defendant, Patrick Ward, 32, of Aspull Common, accused of the same conspiracy offences, did not attend today’s hearing. His trial will proceed in his absence tomorrow morning.

More than £200,000 worth of damage is estimated to have been caused to the brewery when a group of around 100 members of the travelling community set up camp over the bank holiday weekend.

Thomas Ward and John Ward will be sentenced on Thursday.

The youth was bailed to next appear at Preston Crown Court on December 14.

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