A WIGAN businessman today spoke of his relief after being dramatically cleared of a string of charges including issuing death threats.
Steven Breheny, from Standish Lower Ground, walked free from court after being acquitted by a jury of a total of nine charges, including demanding money with menaces, making threats to kill and conspiracy to steal cars.
Mr Breheny, owner of Breheny Security, strenuously denied all the charges throughout a year-long legal process against him, which centred on allegations he had demanded thousands of pounds and a car from Paul Scully and David Williamson.
The jury at Liverpool Crown Court took almost six hours before returning their verdicts and Mr Breheny’s parents, who attended the court each day with his wife, wiped away tears of relief as they sat in the public gallery. Following the 12-day trial, Mr Breheny and his legal counsel at Stephensons Solicitors spoke of the effect the trial has had on his life and business and his delight at being found not guilty.
The 40-year-old said: “I’m grateful to my family and friends, who supported me throughout the trial.
“It has been an extremely difficult 12 months, from the time of arrest through to a long court case, with various accusations against my character along the way. I would also like to thank my legal team for helping to clear my name.”
The prosecution had alleged that Mr Breheny demanded Mr Williamson hand over £10,000 cash and his Audi, worth £10,000, and Paul Scully pay up £20,000 and issued threats against them between June 29 and July 3 last year.
Mr Scully also claimed that four cars were stolen from his online business while he was in hiding and an allegation was made that Mr Breheny had threatened to kill Mr Scully on June 29.
However, the trial also revealed that both witnesses, who gave evidence from behind a curtain, had been involved in cultivating cannabis, with Mr Williamson admitting farming the drug in court.
Neal Boland from Stephensons Solicitors, who defended Mr Breheny, said: “We are thankful to the jury who have acquitted Mr Breheny of the charges against him.
“Despite the fact that Mr Breheny has pledged his innocence of all charges, the allegations and subsequent legal proceedings can have a huge impact on a business’s reputation.
“We successfully discredited the two witnesses who had made the accusations. The prosecution sought to rely on their evidence but this was rejected by the jury.”
Mr Breheny’s co-defendant Paul Sutton, from Wrightington, was also cleared of conspiracy to steal cars and was discharged from the dock. Mr Breheny, who had been in custody, was released later.
This is not the first time former wrestler Mr Breheny has been accused of but then cleared of crimes.
In 2004 he spoke of facing “seven months of hell” before the collapse of a trial at which he was accused of racially-aggravated assault against three eastern European men.