Bognor Regis drug dealer faces 11 year's prison time for blackmail and assault

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A drug dealer from Bognor Regis is facing 11 years in prison for blackmail and assault, Sussex Police have said.

On July 19, 2023, police received a desperate 999 call from a father who said he’d received messages from his 22-year-old son, claiming to have been kidnapped.

Officers visited his property as the victim returned home shortly after 9pm. He said he had been taken in a van from a cemetery in Hawthorn Road at around midday, threatened with violence and driven to a property somewhere else in Bognor. From there, he was able to send messages to his father, before being bundled back in the van and stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver. He only managed to escape and return home when the van stopped at some traffic lights.

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Two days later, officers arrested 29-year-old Lashaun ‘Jay’ Kwatia. A search of his Bognor Regis address found cash and multiple mobile phones linked to Kwatia. Meanwhile, a separate investigation West Sussex Community Investigation Team identified Kwatia as the man behind the JAY county drugs line, supplying crack cocaine and heroin.

29-year-old Lashaun ‘Jay’ Kwatia29-year-old Lashaun ‘Jay’ Kwatia
29-year-old Lashaun ‘Jay’ Kwatia

Kwatia, of Linden Grove in Southwark, was later charged and convicted of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, blackmail and causing actual bodily harm, although he was found not guilty of kidnap.

Appearing at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday (June 06), he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and given a restraining order of 20 years against the victim and another man.

In a Victim Impact Statement submitted to the court, Kwatia’s victim said: “I feel constantly on edge and twitchy all the time. Whenever I have to go into a small room or space, particularly a car, I start panicking and I flash back to the incident.

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“I am now afraid of going outside, particularly of being seen by one of Jay’s associates. I feel like I have to be constantly vigilant and check around me which is incredibly draining.

“I have barely been leaving the house because of this fear, and I have stopped my work as a tree surgeon because I feel so stressed when I am outside.”

Detective Constable Krishno Halley said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for this young man, whose desperate pleas to his father show his profound fear that his life was in danger.

“He and his family must now live with the long-lasting trauma from that day, living in fear for their own safety.