A TAXI firm boss was blackmailed after one of his drivers failed to make a pick-up.

Robert Wright, 20, demanded £500 from the owner of the firm near Consett, County Durham, after a minibus driver took a group of men to Yarm, near Stockton, Teesside, but refused to collect them again after trouble broke out on the bus.

Newastle Crown Court heard that the fare was to cost £160 but the driver was underpaid when he dropped the men off.

It was then decided that the driver would not make the return journey to pick the men back up.

This prompted Mr Wright and a group of burly pals to turn up at the taxi base days later, last August, and demand £150 back. He was offered £50, as it cost £100 to replace windows on the bus.

Tim Parkin, prosecuting, told the court: "The owner arrived and told them they were getting nothing at all.

"This caused the defendant to say that he didn't want £150, but wanted £500. He began making threats about how he would be back in a couple of days and it would cost a lot more in the long run."

Mr Wright, of Holmeside Lane, Burnhope, County Durham, denies blackmail on August 13, last year.

The trial continues.