A MAN who involved his own stepson in threatening his former employer has avoided prison.

Paul Connors, 46, and Benjamin Obasuke-Bates, 23, appeared in Chester Crown Court on Monday after threatening Jonathan Gallagher, the managing director of Alpha Gas Lines Limited, based in Appleton Thorn.

Connors was employed with the company last year but left less than two weeks later because there was a dispute as to the quality of the work he had carried out.

Paulinus Barnes, prosecuting, told the court how Connors became aggressive through text messages, asking Mr Gallagher for the money he was owed, threatening him and saying he had better 'look over his shoulder'.

The pair agreed to meet in a lay-by in Grappenhall in May.

The court heard how Connors got out of the car, which was driven by his stepson, Obasuke-Bates, and approached Mr Gallagher in an aggressive manner.

Mr Gallagher recorded the conversation which heard Connors shouting and threatening him, along with Obasuke-Bates, who has no previous convictions.

Connors, who lives in Manchester with his stepson, has four previous convictions for nine offences which date back to the 1990s.

Milena Barratt, representing Connors, explained how he got upset after he was told his work was not good enough as he had never had any complaints previously.

The court heard how Connors believed he would receive £200 by cheque but when he arrived at the lay-by in Grappenhall, Mr Gallagher did not have money and he became angry.

Ms Barratt also stressed that Connors was remorseful and a custodial sentence would massively impact upon his family, in the care of his son and of his father, who had recently suffered a heart attack and needed help in the house.

Tim Ashmole, defending Obasuke-Bates, said he had only become involved in the matter after driving Connors to meet with Mr Gallagher.

He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

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Judge Simon Berkson, sentencing in Chester Crown Court, told Connors: "You are the reason your stepson is standing in the dock in the crown court for his first ever conviction of any crime.

"Your shame is compounded in the shame you clearly feel for getting that young man standing next to you in trouble for the first time."

Judge Berkson sentenced Connors to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and gave him a 12-month community order.

Obasuke-Bates was also handed a 12-month community order.

Both Connors and Obasuke-Bates are now subject to a five-year restraining order prohibiting them from contacting Mr Gallagher.