NINE men at the centre of a large-scale Nissan theft scam could see their jail terms slashed after a prosecution courtroom blunder.
In January, the conspirators were given prison sentences of up to five years, on the basis the satellite navigation systems they had been stealing were worth more than £2,500 each.
But Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday that defence teams, who had objected to the high value put on the stolen items, have since found out the true cost per system is just over £250 – 10 times less.
Judge Jeremy Freedman has now ordered the jail terms to be reviewed.
Judge Freedman said: “I am extremely unhappy about having sentenced the defendants under what now turns out to be a false basis. I am troubled.
“It gave me no pleasure to pass the substantial prison sentences I felt I had to impose, particularly because of the breach of trust aspect, but also because of the very high value of the goods. It was still a very serious conspiracy but the value is clearly a factor in determining the length of sentence.”
The judge said he would give no guarantee any jail term would be reduced and said the offences still cross the custody threshold.
At the last hearing Stephen Ganley, 31, of Padgate Road, Pennywell, was jailed for five years, while his father Anthony Ganley, 49, of the same address, was jailed for three after they admitted conspiracy to steal and handle stolen goods.
Van driver Kris Beckwith, 36, of Newbury Street, Monkwearmouth, whose work allowed him inside the Nissan compound, was jailed for three years and four months when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal on the basis he was the “go-between” for the Ganleys and those getting the stolen goods out of the factory.
Driver David Evans, 32, of Cartwright Road, Castletown, who was involved in the theft of a pallet of 96 sat navs through his work in the compound for a delivery firm, was jailed for 18 months. The former soldier had denied involvement but was found guilty.
Gavin Wright, 28, of Monkton Avenue, South Shields, an agency driver for Nissan, admitted stealing sim cards from newly-manufactured vehicles to supply to the Ganleys so the stolen sat navs would work.
He was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work after admitting theft.
Ganley family friend Neil Crossan, 47, of Stathmore Road, Springwell, was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work. He had admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to selling six sat navs and 36 USB cables stolen from the plant.
Paul Burrell, 42, of Front Road, Ford Estate, was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work. He had admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to eBay sales.
David Whitfield, 38, of Silksworth Row, Sunderland, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work. He had admitted conspiracy to steal.
Lee Myers, 34, Coronation Avenue, Blackhall, County Durham, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work. He had admitted handling stolen goods after being caught selling stolen sat navs over eBay.