Sunderland businesswoman Anne Ganley was once heralded as a shining star of the Wearside business community.
But now she faces two-and-a-half years behind bars after getting numerous employees to accept speeding points on her behalf.
Thompson’s Building Services, which she ran before it collapsed in 2013, took the coveted Business of the Year gong at the Echo’s Portfolio Awards back in 2010, while Mrs Ganley herself was given an Outstanding Contribution honour in 2011.
Hardworking Mrs Ganley joined the family scrap metal business set up by her father, Albert Thompson, straight from school at the age of 15 and steered it in a new direction when she realised the scrap market was declining.
She even welcomed HM The Queen to Sunderland as part of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
She was made an OBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for her charity work and her contribution to the builder’s merchant industry.
But by October 2013, she was declared bankrupt.
Former North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Mrs Ganley blamed the collapse of the Thompson’s empire on a combination of difficult trading conditions, “excessive and exceptional bank charges” and an unwillingness by Customs and Excise bosses to allow time to pay after an “extremely tough” winter trading period.
Just a month before her bankruptcy was confirmed, she escaped a driving ban after twice being caught speeding, once while using a mobile phone.
Related article:Will Anne Ganley be stripped of her OBE?
She told city magistrates she needed her licence because she was trying to rebuild the waste management arm of the business, saying: “I just want to be allowed to work.
“I want nothing from anybody or anything.”
The court heard she hoped to set up an Individual Voluntary Arrangement to clear her debts and avoid bankruptcy.
Last year, Mrs Ganley holed herself up at a Thompson Waste Services unit in The Parade, Hendon.
The 59-year-old refused to move despite ACT Construction, an agent for the building’s owner Alan Thompson, taking possession of the property.
However, ACT says it had no choice other than to act after concerns over the firm’s running of the site.
Mrs Ganley said she would not leave the building until the threat of eviction was lifted.
Police officers attended the scene to ensure a breach of the peace did not occur, as officers would not get involved in a civil dispute.
She eventually left the unit after being there for a number of days.