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Gravesend blackmail builder jailed

PUBLISHED: 12:41 27 October 2010

Lakhbir Bhana

Lakhbir Bhana

Archant

The boss of a building firm who used a hired enforcer in an attempt to coerce a customer into handing over almost half a million pounds has been jailed.

Lakhbir Bhana, of Cimba Wood, Gravesend, was sentenced to two years and four months behind bars at Maidstone Crown Court on October 20.

The 41-year-old director of firm Dyneema was found guilty of leading a four-man blackmailing plot using John Phillips, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, in an attempt to frighten fellow construction boss Colin Basi into handing over money.

Mr Basi, managing director of Medway business KKB Haulage, was targeted because Bhana believed he was owed money for work carried out in 2007.

When an arbitration found against Bhana in 2008, he enlisted fellow conspirators Ajmal Ellahi, from Birmingham, and Surjit Bhalla, of Staines, to track Mr Basi and hire Phillips, from Reading. Judge Philip St John-Stevens heard how in June last year Bhalla drove with Phillips to the victim’s work site to demand £340,000 in money owed and £60,000 in court costs from the arbitration.

Phillips, who was sentenced to two years and six months for his part in the plot, is said to have threatened to shoot both Mr Basi and his family if he did not pay. Ellahi was given two years and six months and Bhalla two years and four months for their parts in the blackmail plot.

After sentencing, Detective Sergeant Gary Scarfe, of the major crime department of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The sentencing today is the conclusion of an attempt to blackmail a businessman using threats of extreme violence and firearms against the victim and his family, to enforce the demands.

“These men were prepared to go to great lengths in order to obtain a large sum of money they believed they were entitled to.”

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