Brian Blackwell was born in 1986, an only child, to Sydney, a retired accountant and Jacqueline, an antiques dealer. When Blackwell was two-years-old, his parents, described as respectable and ‘a nice, solid couple’, moved to the affluent village of Melling in Merseyside, where they bought a three-bedroom bungalow. Blackwell was seen as a gentle boy but a bit of a loner, not easily disposed to making friends, either at school or in the home environment.
At school he was an exemplary student and in his teens was nicknamed ‘The Brains’ by his friends. He studied for his A–Levels at Liverpool College and had decided to become a medical surgeon. Blackwell’s doting and supportive parents had high hopes for their son, believing he had the potential to become a great surgeon.
Blackwell was a pathological liar and a tendency towards the grandiose. He liked people to believe he had accomplished things, which in fact he had not. His girlfriend, Amal Saba, was the daughter of Jordanian physicians and a fellow student at Liverpool College. She had succumbed to Blackwell’s extravagant lies about his lifestyle and, although he could play tennis fairly well, he had convinced her that he was a professional tennis player, with a Nike sponsorship deal worth £70,000 and a place in the French Open. He had even asked her to be his manager and in April 2004 had written her a salary cheque for £39,000 despite only having 9p in his account at the time.
The cheque to Saba bounced due to lack of funds and desperate to keep up appearances, Blackwell went to the bank in May 2004 and withdrew £9,000 from an investment account his parents had set up to pay for his university education. He convinced the bank to give him the money, telling them his father had died and that he needed to buy a car for himself. In fact, he used the money to buy Saba a new Ford Ka car for £6,500.
Upon discovering what Blackwell had done, his shocked and distressed parents demanded that Saba return the car. After much argument, it was decided that she would keep the car but pay back the money. Blackwell said that this would only insult him.
Needing money to further back his lavish lies, Blackwell made numerous applications for credit cards and bank loans. In June 2004, Mrs Blackwell discovered this deceit and went to the bank manager to explain about her son and his worrying behaviour regarding finances. His parents would never trust him with money again.
Despite his parents’ knowledge of his fraudulent handling of their money, on 24 July 2004, Blackwell used his father’s credit card to make first class flight bookings from Manchester to New York for himself and Saba. The following day, he accompanied his father to a sports centre in Kirby, where Mr Blackwell spoke to friends with pride about his son’s hard work and studious determination to achieve good results in his A-Levels.