Leicester conman fails in bid to cut his jail term
A conman who was jailed after blackmailing a grandmother has failed in an appeal to have his prison term cut.
Paul Thomas Byrne (48), of Thurlaston Road, Leicester, already had a string of offences to his name when he targeted the woman, a retired hotelier, last year.
He admitted blackmail and separate counts of fraud and theft, and was jailed for five years at Plymouth Crown Court in October.
He challenged the sentence at London's Court of Appeal earlier this week, but had his case rejected by senior judges, Lord Justice Treacy, Mr Justice Saunders and Judge John Milford.
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"His criminal record demonstrates that he has a considerable history of committing offences involving confidence tricks," said Judge Milford.
The Court of Appeal heard Byrne had stayed at the woman's hotel in Plymouth in the early part of 2010, and persuaded her to lend him £500.
He left without paying his bill or returning the cash, but contacted her again in January last year, after she had retired from the hospitality industry.
In a telephone call, he told the 68-year-old: "I have just come out of prison through you opening your big mouth. Two other people who were involved are in hospital."
Threatening her and her family, Byrne demanded she deposit money into an account held in the name of another person he had persuaded to allow their details to be used.
He was arrested and admitted the offences, as well as the theft of £600 he took from an 83-year-old woman's account after getting hold of her cards in January 2010.
His lawyers argued the four-year term he got for the blackmail – to run on top of a year for the theft and fraud – was too long and should be cut.
But Judge Milford said: "The victim had already been a victim of his crime in 2010 when he cheated both her and the hotel she managed out of significant sums.
"The threats were aimed additionally at her daughter and grandchildren.
"We don't consider that there are any grounds for arguing that the sentence of five years as a whole was manifestly excessive."