A SOUTH Tyneside man is behind bars over a speeding points scam which resembled the case of former cabinet minister Chris Huhne.
Andrew Grainger asked his nephew Kenneth Grainger if he knew anyone who would be willing to accept points on their licence in exchange for cash after he was caught speeding.
Pal Graham McDermott agreed to pretend he had been driving the motorbike, which was clocked doing 37mph in a 30mph zone, and submitted a false confession to magistrates.
He was paid £170 in exchange, but Newcastle Crown Court court heard their scam was uncovered when the men fell out over the £500 fine imposed on McDermott, which none of them had been expecting.
It was after the bailiffs turned up at McDermott’s door demanding the unpaid fine he sent a letter to magistrates admitting what they had done.
Andrew Grainger, 50, of Raynham Court, South Shields, Kenneth Grainger, 32, and Graham McDermott, 41, both of Hollin Hill Road, Washington, all pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Judge James Goss QC jailed them each for three months and made reference to the Chris Huhne scandal, which saw the former Lib Dem MP and estranged wife Vicky Pryce jailed for swapping speeding points.
The judge said: “The resemblance to the case that was sentenced yesterday is just remarkable.
“It strikes at the very heart of the justice system – I dont want to steal the thunder of the judge yesterday at Southwark Crown Court.
“Each case has to be treated on its own individual facts.
“As is well known, and should be well known, people who enter into agreements to pervert the course of justice, particularly in relation to speeding or motoring offences, in general, are entering onto very thin ice and can expect to receive custodial sentences.
“There are abundant authorities, we don’t need the case at Southwark Crown Court to remind anyone.
“It has to be known, those who engage in offences of this kind are going to receive sentences of imprisonment.”
Emma Dowling, prosecuting, told the court it was on March 27 last year Andrew Grainger was riding a motorbike, without a licence, through Sunderland, and was caught on camera.
A few days later, he received a letter from the Fixed Penalty Unit.
Miss Dowling told the court: “Fearful of the consequences of accepting he had been not only speeding, but riding without a licence, he contacted Kenneth Grainger, his nephew, and asked if he knew anyone who might be prepared to take the points for him in exchange for money.
“After some thought, Mr Grainger put him in contact with Graham McDermott.”
The court heard McDermott accepted the points but was also landed with a £500 fine.
Miss Dowling said: “The fine was more than Mr McDermott had anticipated and more than Mr Grainger had anticipated.
“A dispute broke out between them over who was going to pay this amount of money.
“Mr McDermott decided, when the bailiffs came around to enforce the payment, it was time to come clean.”
Defence barristers said none of the three men appreciated the seriousness of what they had done and none of them have been to prison before.