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Hawke's Bay blackmail accused in court

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/08/2016 Cleo Fraser

A Hawke's Bay man has appeared in court accused of blackmailing several large companies by threatening to harm their customers.

The 55-year-old appeared in the Napier District Court on Thursday where he was granted interim name suppression.

Police allege he blackmailed seven companies between August 9 and August 13 this year, but the names and nature of the companies has also been suppressed by the court.

Although the threats had been under police investigation since July, police did not make the probe public until earlier on Thursday.

The judge agreed to suppress the name and nature of the companies after assurances from Crown prosecutor Steve Manning that there was no risk to public safety.

Mr Manning said there was no evidence the accused had carried out the threats or had the ability to do so.

An application for bail by the man's lawyer, Eric Forster, was granted and the accused is next due to appear in court on September 28 when his interim name suppression will lapse.

The judge agreed to release him on bail on the conditions that he report to police, not access the internet, surrender his passport and that he attend Napier health centre.

No plea was entered.

Police have defended their decision not reveal the investigation until Thursday.

"Police made a carefully considered judgement about not making the threat public until this point," Detective Inspector Chris Cahill.

"This decision followed a thorough risk assessment which took into consideration all the information available."

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