A PROMINENT Wigan businessman has been accused of conspiring to commit blackmail.
Stephen Blakeley is currently remanded in custody awaiting an appearance at Preston Crown Court next month when he will enter his plea.
A trial date at Lancaster Crown Court has been provisionally arranged for January 21 next year.
The managing director of Bickershaw-based Blakeleys Waste Management was arrested on September 1 and initially charged with blackmail by making a series of phone calls in which he demanded money for an associate.
This charge was later substituted by one of conspiracy to commit blackmail and he appeared at Chorley Magistrates’ Court where he was committed to crown court and remanded in custody.
The 49-year-old, of Helmfield Road, Ince, has since appeared at a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court and remains in custody. It is believed he is being held at Preston Prison. These are troubled times for the Bickershaw Lane company whose trucks and bins are a familiar site around Wigan.
On October 30 it is due to appear at Burnley Crown Court accused of dumping controlled waste on land in Oswaldtwistle without an environmental permit between June 12 and July 12 last year.
And company director Blakeley has also been charged with consenting to the offence.
And earlier this week a Health and Safety Executive investigation was launched at the recycling centre after a 19-year-old suffered multiple injuries in a 20ft fall.
Ben Hilton, 19, was sorting waste on Wednesday night when it is alleged that he fell down a chute and landed on a concrete floor.
He suffered a broken leg, broken arm, fractured jaw and pelvic injury and is currently being treated at Salford Royal Hospital where his condition is said to be stable.