A DARWEN man and his sister were threatened with extreme violence following the breakdown of a business relationship.

Blackburn magistrates heard Ben Dugdale threatened to cut off Sean Ronnan's ears and take his eyes out.

He also made threats to other family members and mentioned that he knew which school the sister's child went to.

Dugdale, 33, of Payne Close, Warrington, pleaded guilty to harassing Sean Ronnan by sending messages and making phone calls to his sister Sarah Ronnan and his dad, Andrew Ronnan and making threatening phone calls to Sarah Ronnan.

He was committed on bail to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced on October 7 after the magistrates ruled their powers of punishment were insufficient.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said Dugdale and Sean Ronnan had been in business together in a company called Insulation King on Sidings Business Park, Whalley.

"The business was not doing very well and it was decided to pay Dugdale out of the company and he was given a sum of money," said Miss Allan.

"The business took an up turn and became extremely successful and it seems this is where the issue has arisen."

She said Dugdale started to contact the Ronnan family asking for money and was eventually warned off by the police.

"Despite that, the threats continued and he said he would hound them for the rest of their lives," said Miss Allan.

"Sarah Ronnan told police that Dugdale seemed to have lost control. She said she just wanted him to stop so she could feel safe and not have to worry about her son."

Dugdale told police he knew the company was worth £1.7 million.

"He said the fact Mr Ronnan has all that money occupies his mind from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep," said Miss Allan.

Gary Heaven, defending, said it was accepted they had been relatively persistent threats over a period of time. He said his client, a married man with five children, had some mental health problems and was awaiting counselling for severe depression.