A PROLIFIC Stourbridge crook who demanded £10,000 from his frightened and vulnerable girlfriend after his eight cannabis plants had been seized by police in a raid on her friend's home has been locked up for eight years.

Blackmailer Kieran Taplin also told the woman, who was repeatedly insulted and subjected to violence, she had to start growing the illegal drug in the garden of her home.

"Your pattern of offending shows arrogance and a complete disregard for anyone other than yourself," Judge Rhona Campbell told the 31-year-old father of four.

She said Taplin, who went on to ram two police patrol cars in separate incidents in just two hours, had continually humiliated his partner and his threats "amplified the fear she had of you."

The Judge said Taplin, who had 94 previous convictions on his criminal record, had treated the woman as an "object" adding, "She has been left in a sorry state as a consequence of your behaviour."

Taplin, of Vicarage Road, Stourbridge, had denied blackmail, assault by beating and causing criminal damage but he was found guilty by a jury at the end of his trial.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of driving dangerously, two more of driving while disqualified, two of having no insurance, handling a stolen Audi and possessing a bladed article - a lock-knife.

Matthew Barnes, prosecuting, said Taplin was spotted behind the wheel of the Audi 12 days after it was taken in a car key burglary at the Old Horseshow pub in Belbroughton on August 3rd last year.

He drove onto the driveway of a house in Thorns Road but when he spotted a police car he then reversed the Audi which had false registration plates into the vehicle before speeding away from the scene.

Mr Barnes said that at the time Taplin was wanted by police and he had been recognised by the officers in the patrol car.

Then just two hours later he was again seen driving in the Netherton area.

Taplin drove through a red light in a bid to escape, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told, and he hit speeds of up to 60mph in a 30mph limit before getting stuck in heavy traffic.

He had moments earlier rammed the car twice but when the Audi became stuck in traffic the police officers hit his vehicle bringing it to a halt and Taplin was arrested.

Mr Barnes said the course of blackmail by Taplin on his partner had been "prolonged" and she had been deliberately targeted because of her vulnerable state.

In a victim impact statement the woman later told police she had been left suffering from panic attacks, he had shattered her spirit and left her depressed and feeling of low esteem.

She told the officers she feared Taplin, whose previous crimes included violence against previous partners, possessing offensive weapons, robbery and dangerous driving, would kill her.

"I am terrified just thinking about him," the mother went on. "I am still in fear of him and what he might do."

The judge further made an indefinite restraining order against Taplin forbidding him from having any contact with the woman.

Balvinder Bhatti, defending, said Taplin, who suffered from anxiety and depression, was now motivated to put his life in order and he had been taking steps while being held in custody on remand to resolve his problems.