A man who tried to help a fearsome blackmailer to evade police has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Nottingham Crown Court heard on Wednesday, March 22, how Russell Greenhalgh, 49, had denied conspiring to pervert the course of justice but a trial jury found him guilty of the offence.
David, Luke and John Lowther had targeted businesses during a protection and blackmail racket that terrified and extorted thousands of pounds from victims in Brassington, Ilkeston, Heanor and the Amber Valley.
And prosecuting barrister Adrian Langdale explained that Greenhalgh had helped David Lowther to stay in Gran Canaria and Europe and helped arrange for him to return to the UK via Dublin while police were closing in on him and his gang.
Mr Langdale added: “David Lowther could not be found because by chance he had been on a family holiday in Gran Canaria.”
Lowther failed to return with his family after he had been tipped-off by Greenhalgh with phone calls, according to Mr Langdale, that Lowther’s brothers John and Luke had been arrested.
Mr Langdale added that Greenhalgh followed David Lowther’s movements across Europe as he travelled to Madrid, Amsterdam, France and Spain and he helped hatch a plan to transport a 4x4 vehicle and a caravan for David Lowther before he returned to the UK.
Greenhalgh had claimed that he did not even like David Lowther and told police he had no reason to speak to him despite evidence of phone calls across Europe between the two men.
He also claimed he had only travelled with the 4x4 vehicle and the caravan with co-accused Richard Cooper because he was helping Cooper with his marital difficulties.
David Lowther eventually returned via Ireland with co-accused Stephen Vincent, according to Mr Langdale, but they separated at the checkpoint.
Mr Langdale explained that David Lowther had been due to return to Birmingham Airport on January 11 but he did not return to the UK until February 6 and he was arrested some time afterwards.
Stephen Vincent, 36, of Lacey Fields Road, Heanor, and Richard Cooper, 43, of Ebenezer Street, Langley Mill, admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Greenhalgh, of Minver Crescent, Nottingham, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
David Lowther, 35, of Cedar Road, Forest Fields, Nottingham, has admitted three counts of conspiracy to blackmail, three counts of perverting the course of justice, two counts of intimidation, one count of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and conspiring to conceal criminal cash.
John Lowther, 39, of Middle Crescent, Aspley, Nottingham, has admitted three counts of conspiring to blackmail, conspiring to pervert the course of justice and conspiring to conceal criminal cash.
Luke Lowther, 33, of Thames Street, Bulwell, Nottingham, has admitted three counts of conspiring to blackmail, driving while disqualified, intimidation, threatening to damage property and perverting the course of justice.
Five other associates linked to the Lowthers’ blackmail racket have also pleaded guilty to different charges ranging from conspiring to blackmail, conspiring to conceal criminal property and perverting the course of justice.
The eleven defendants are due to be sentenced during April.