Sunderland business boss Anne Ganley in court after getting staff to take speeding points on her behalf

Anne Ganley
Anne Ganley

A Sunderland businesswoman has appeared in court after getting her staff to take speeding points on her behalf.

Anne Ganley OBE appeared in the dock at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by asking staff at A Thompson & Sons to take the blame for traffic offences on her behalf.

The charge relates to 30 separate occasions, and all bar one involved speeding offences. The remaining occasion related to contravening a red light.

Ganley, 59, who is said to have raised millions for charity, accepts she perpetrated 14 of the offences on the schedule, between December 2006 and the early part of 2012.

Now Ganley, of The Cedars, Ashbrooke, Sunderland is awaiting sentence along with 11 others.

Prosecutor Christopher Knox said: "The defendants were part of a large conspiracy. Involved as principal architect of that, was Anne Ganley, aided and abetted by Thomas Barraclough."

Mr Knox said Anne Ganley and her son and co-defendant, Brent Ganley, were listed as the sole directors of the business, which went into liquidation some time after the offences were committed.

He said all involved were employees of the company at the time except Wayne Cullen, who was recruited by Barraclough during a visit to the pub.

"There were thirty offences, which the police investigated. I'm not suggesting everybody were responsible for all thirty of these," he said.

Mr Knox said most of the speeding tickets related to various Range Rovers, used by Anne Ganley.

"Anne Ganley was, in fact, a serial motor offender and was once banned from driving for an accumulation of points," he added.

"The other defendants participated in the conspiracy by accepting points on her behalf."

Barraclough was instructed to nominate staff to take points, the court heard.

"He was the workshop manager and in a position of some seniority. He had something of a pressure from up above, to achieve what was, in fact, achieved," Mr Knox said.

"Anne Ganley also nominated her father, who is now dead."

Jeremy Barton, mitigating for Anne Ganley, said he had submitted references to the court, vouching for the 'good work' she has done in the community.

Mr Barton said one employee had refused when she was asked to accept points.

"There is no suggestion she was put under any kind of duress or threat in terms of her job," he said.

"They may well have believed that, but there is no evidence of that. They may well have felt under pressure. She ran the business, she was at the helm and she accepts full responsibility."

Mr Barton said Ganley has raised millions of pounds for charity, including for a memorial for fallen soldiers and that Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott had written a letter of reference.

"I have letters and references from various figures of society who endorse what she has done," he said, adding that Ganley had paid for funerals for employees' relatives, private healthcare and even a wedding for someone whose partner was terminally ill."

David Callan said his client, Joseph Dobbie, had felt 'obliged' to take part, because Ganley had paid for private surgery, when he suffered an injury.

David Elliott's barrister Paul Reid, said his client was told it was 'in his best interest' to comply and take three points for her.

Elliott said: "She has quite a reputation for firing people. My job was at stake. My wife was pregnant at the time. I couldn't afford to lose my job."

Lee Fish, for Thomas Barraclough, said: "Whilst he had a management role within the company, he was still an employee of Anne Ganley.

"He would be instructed by Anne Ganley to find someone to take her penalty points and that's what he did. He was fearful of the consequences if he did not."

The hearing continues today, where all involved are expected to learn their fate

*Anne Ganley and seven of her former employees pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

They are: Thomas Barraclough, 66, of Castlereagh Street, Sunderland; Joseph Dobbie, 71, of Tudor Grove, Sunderland; David Elliott, 38, of Gardiner Square, Grindon; Michael Flynn, 56, of Londonderry Tower, Sunderland; James Green, 64, of Londonderry, Tower, Hendon; Ruth Pilmore, 62, of Gordon Road, Sunderland; and Kelly Todd, 35, of Sea View, Sunderland.

A further three former staff - Anne Ganley's son Brent Ganley, 39, of Biddick Lane, Fatfield; Gavin Hazard, 35, of Westheath Avenue, Sunderland; and Michael Turner, 50, of Drumoyne Close, East Herrington - were found guilty of the same charge after a trial.

The only non-employee involved in the case - Wayne Cullen, 46, of Victoria Street, Hetton - admitted perverting the course of justice.