Former Cleveland Police chief’s penalty points trial gets underway

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A FORMER police authority chief persuaded a friend to take three penalty points for him so he would avoid a driving ban, a court has heard.

Dave McLuckie, who was once in charge of Cleveland Police Authority, needed a “big favour” to help his career, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The 51-year-old, from Great Ayton, was accused of asking his friend Maurice Ward to accept he was driving McLuckie’s black Peugeot when it was caught doing 36mph in a 30mph zone at Carlin How, Cleveland, in April 2005.

He denies perverting the course of justice.

McLuckie, a Redcar and Cleveland councillor who was then vice-chairman of the police authority and on the verge of taking the senior role, already had nine points on his licence for speeding and was facing a ban if three more were added, the jury heard.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said the offence came to light only after Mr Ward’s death in January last year.

Mr Dry said McLuckie visited his friend, who lived in the same village, 13 days after the speeding offence, saying he needed “a big favour”.

In the hearing of Mr Ward’s wife Nancy, McLuckie asked his friend to take the penalty points as a ban would affect his chances of becoming police authority chairman, Mr Dry said.

“Maurice Ward agreed and his licence was subsequently endorsed with those three points,” Mr Dry said.

Mr Ward’s relationship with the defendant “soured” after he fell ill with cancer in 2007 and felt the police authority chairman had not visited him in hospital, the court heard.

Before the father of two died from the disease, he wrote a note detailing what he did for McLuckie, Mr Dry said.

His widow only opened it after he died, the court heard.

Mr Ward, who kept a meticulous daily diary, also told other members of the family what he had done, the jury was told.

His daughter Donna told a local councillor what had happened, and the police were informed.

His diary showed that on the day of the speeding offence, Mr Ward had given his son Nicholas and wife lifts in the Skelton area.

Mr Ward had a white Peugeot, not a black one, at the time.

After his arrest, McLuckie told police that the allegation was “motivated by malice”, the court heard.

Mr Dry said: “He didn’t specifically deny being the driver, he claimed he had spoken to Maurice Ward who agreed he had probably been driving the car on that occasion.”

Mr Dry added: “It is the prosecution case the defendant is not telling the truth in that interview and is seeking to avoid the consequences of his actions just as he had when he persuaded Maurice Ward to take the penalty points.”

Mrs Ward told the court the two families knew each other from living together in Skelton.

Her son began a relationship with McLuckie’s daughter and the families would watch Middlesbrough FC in an executive box with the future police authority chairman.

Asked about her husband taking the points for his former friend, she said: “He shouldn’t have done it.”

The trial continues.