Lancashire

Thwaites Brewery traveller camp: Man admits blackmail plot

Caravans and vehicles at Thwaites brewery
Image caption About 100 travellers set up camp at the brewery on 26 May

A man has admitted blackmailing a chief executive after he and a group of travellers set up camp at a brewery.

Damage costing £200,000 was done to Blackburn's Thwaites Brewery after about 100 people occupied it on 26 May.

Thomas Ward admitted demanding £20,000 with menaces from the firm's boss Richard Bailey over the camp.

At Preston Crown Court, the 43-year-old, of Leigh, also admitted conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to commit criminal damage at the brewery.

The presence of the travellers at the site led to 1,700 pints of beer being poured away in case of contamination.

John Ward, 33, also of Leigh, and a 17-year-old boy also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy offences.

The two men will be sentenced at the same court on Thursday, while the boy will be dealt with at a later date.

Patrick Ward, 32, of Aspull Common, who was also accused of the two conspiracy offences, did not attend the hearing.

His trial will proceed in his absence on Tuesday.

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