A BLACKHALL man was part of a £1m theft scam at car giant Nissan’s Washington plant.
Trusted workers at the factory smuggled out high-value car components which ended up for sale at a fraction of their true worth on internet auction site eBay.
Bosses at the factory had tipped off the police after 235 satellite navigation systems, worth a total of £615,000, went missing over a three-month period at the end of 2011.
A further pallet of sat-navs, worth a total of £251,000, was taken from the plant in February 2012, and other pallets still remain unaccounted for.
Lee Myers, 34, of Coronation Avenue, Blackhall, 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.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that it has not been possible to put an exact figure on what was stolen or how many people were involved in the scam.
When police launched an undercover investigation, codenamed Operation Broadway, officers were led to Anthony and Stephen Ganley at Tony’s Car Radios in Sunderland.
The court heard that Anthony Ganley, 49, who owns the firm, and his son Stephen, 31, both of Padgate Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, had been selling stolen satellite navigation systems through the shop and via eBay.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Judge Jeremy Freedman put them, and two other men involved in the conspiracy, behind bars.
Judge Freedman said: “The items were stolen and, in the main, passed onto Anthony and Stephen Ganley, who, in turn, sold them either on eBay accounts or from the car radio shop.
“I regard this as a well-planned, orchestrated and executed conspiracy.
“At its heart are the two Ganleys, being recipients of the goods.
“Equally at its core is Kris Beckwith, the go-between who planned and arranged the thefts and arranged for the onward transportation of the units to the Ganleys.”
Ganley snr, who has recently taken over city centre bar Oddies, was jailed for three years after he admitted conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to handle stolen goods.
The court heard that Ganley snr is a respected and successful businessman in the local community and has worked hard to build up his empire.
Former Nissan plant worker Ganley jnr, who admitted the same charges, was jailed for five years.
The court heard that he “turned a blind eye” to where the stolen stock was coming from.
Van driver Beckwith, 36, of Newbury Street, Monkwearmouth, whose work allowed him inside the Nissan compound, was yesterday jailed for three years and four months.
He had admitted conspiracy to steal on the basis that he was a 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, worth £251,000, was jailed for 18 months.
The former soldier, who served in Afghanistan, had denied involvement but was found guilty after a trial.
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’ imprisonment 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’ jail, 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’ imprisonment, 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 after being involved in transporting the stolen pallet of 96 sat navs.