Wedding danger driver, pie thrower and abusive nurse: Criminals with ‘lenient’ sentence challenged

A man who ran over his stepmum at a wedding, a former police trainer who bullied his elderly parents and a woman who pushed a pie into a mum’s face at Ladies Day are among the North East criminals who had their sentences challenged for being ‘unduly lenient’.

New figures have revealed that 22 cases sentenced at North East courts last year were referred to the Attorney General’s office to be reviewed under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.

But just one of them was referred to the Court of Appeal as a result.

Elswick rapist Connor Barrass had his jail term upped to 15 years after the court ruled the original sentence of 12 years was too soft.

But of the other cases, seven were not referred to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient.

A further 14 were rejected as the offences were not covered by the scheme. Only certain types of case can be reviewed, including murder, rape, robbery, some child sex crimes and child cruelty.

The ULS scheme allows victims of crime, their families and the public to ask for a review of certain sentences that they believe are far too low.

Of the cases referred from North East courts this year, 17 were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court, four at Durham Crown Court and one at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

Cases referred to the Court of Appeal

Connor Barrass



Connor Barrass

Sick brute Connor Barrass was jailed for 12 years in August for a terrifying sex attack carried out on a woman in her own home.

The 23-year-old Elswick pervert followed his victim home before bursting in and sitting on her chest as he rained down punches. He then raped her.

The “shocking and despicable” attack, which happened in January, left the woman in hospital for ten days.

However the Court of Appeal has now increased Barrass’ sentence to 15 years after it ruled he was a dangerous offender.

Prior to this case the offender had 21 previous convictions, a number of which involved violence against women.

Cases not referred to the court of appeal

Ann Simpson



Ann Simpson

Despicable lowlife Ann Simpson posed as a police officer to steal from a 91-year-old.

The serial criminal already had 188 previous convictions when she targeted the vulnerable pensioner at his home in South Shields.

A court heard she duped the victim by telling she had been sent to help him find safe places to hide cash.

She ended up fleeing with £150 after a struggle which left him with an injured finger.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 33-year-old had already been at the pensioner’s house the previous day, when she claimed to have been the victim of an attack and was kindly given £10 and invited in before she took a cash tin containing around £40 and his wallet.

Simpson, of no fixed address, had just been released from jail when she targeted the victim.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary in relation to the pensioner.

She also admitted burglary at the home, also in South Shields, of a woman she knew, who is in poor health.

The judge sentenced her to three years behind bars.

Mark Davison



Mark Davison, who admitted causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

Mark Davison groomed a 12-year-old girl and got her to send indecent pictures of herself on Snapchat as part of a “fantasy relationship”.

Davison made full admissions to the offence as long ago as June 2016 but was released under investigation – a controversial tactic used by police which means there is no time limit on how long they have to charge someone, unlike when they are released on bail.

Despite there being a vulnerable 12-year-old victim and Davison himself having psychological problems and a low IQ, it was not until December 2018 that he finally appeared in court to plead guilty and only now has he been sentenced.

At Newcastle Crown Court in February 2019, Judge Amanda Rippon slammed the “shocking delay” and said but for that, she would have locked Davison up immediately.

The judge said: “There’s been an utterly appalling delay. I assume that’s because he was released under investigation.”

Davison, 30, of Langdale Road, Penshaw, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and was sentenced to two years suspended for two years with a requirement he completes a sex offenders course.

Ben Ashman



Ben Ashman

A wedding descended into chaos and violence when the mother of the groom was run over three times in a hotel car park by her stepson.

Ben Ashman drove his Vauxhall Grandland at guests in terrifying scenes after getting into a row at his stepbrother’s wedding when his girlfriend said she didn’t like the way someone was looking at her.

Ashman, 37, was originally charged with attempting to murder stepmum Kathryn Ashman but that charge was dropped and prosecutors accepted he ran her over three times unintentionally.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Ashman, of Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, was at the Bowburn Hotel, in Durham, last August, to celebrate the wedding of his stepbrother, Connor.

Around midnight, when several people were drunk, Ashman got into a fight after his girlfriend, Shea Redhead, told him she did not like the way someone had looked at her.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said Ashman left the hotel after others broke up the fight, but he got into a further altercation with his stepbrother Kyle.

Ben Ashman drove round the car park dangerously, towards guests, and deliberately towards Kyle Ashman, stopping just as the bumper hit his shins.

The defendant drove his car into the female friend’s Nissan Juke, severely damaging it.

He then knocked over his stepmother, reversed over her, then pulled forward with her under the vehicle, before he sped off over grass and out of the car park, leaving her covered in blood.

Ashman admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, common assault, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to his stepbrother, dangerous driving and criminal damage. He was jailed for six years.

David McBeth



David McBeth, of Bevan Avenue, Sunderland

A violent thug went on a supermarket rampage, assaulting a shop worker and smashing bottles over the floor.

David McBeth, 30, caused mayhem at the Asda in Ryhope as he vowed to “take what he wanted” and hurled bottles of alcohol across the store.

The drunken raider then assaulted an employee before piling a shopping trolley high with alcohol and brazenly walking out the shop.

His violent behaviour on June 27 last year cost the branch – which was forced to close for the day – an estimated £14,000 of custom.

He also carried out two further assaults during an 11-day crime spree, with one man suffering a bleed to the brain and a fractured eye socket.

McBeth, of Bevan Avenue, Sunderland, admitted robbery and two counts of grievous bodily harm when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on June 12.

He was subsequently jailed for four years.

Andreas Hagemann



Andreas Hagemann

A former police trainer and college lecturer subjected his elderly father to a campaign of “bullying and controlling” behaviour that left him fearing he would kill him.

Andreas Hagemann, 46, described as “highly intelligent” by a judge and “cunning” by his dad, lived with his elderly parents in “unusual” circumstances, a court heard.

The privately-educated former Royal Grammar School pupil had worked for Northumbria Police and at South Tyneside College and had never been in trouble before.

But behind the front door of the family home in South Shields, he was aggressive towards his dad on a number of occasions and the pensioner said “when he gets the red rage, there’s no logic to his thinking”.

The humiliated elderly man, who described living in a “climate of fear”, said he barricaded himself into his bedroom at night, feared his son will kill him and moved a fire extinguisher into his bedroom in case he went through with his threat to burn the house down.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Hagemann held a knife to his dad’s eyelid on once occasion, kicked him on the floor and damaged his BMW.

Hagemann, who denied controlling or coercive behaviour on his dad and inflicting GBH on his mum but was convicted by a jury, was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Sophie Johnson



Sophie Johnson

A woman who had sex with a 14-year-old boy she met online was spared prison.

Sophie Johnson engaged in sexual activity with the schoolboy on three occasions within the space of a few days, a court heard.

Newcastle Crown Court heard she had ignored warnings about his age and failed to take steps to ensure he was over 16.

However, once she realised how young he was, she stopped what was happening between them.

The court heard Johnson, 22, who is immature for her age, began communicating with the lad online and they swapped messages before meeting.

Johnson, of Normanton Terrace, Elswick, Newcastle, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual activity with a child and was sentenced to a three year community order and must sign the sex offenders register for five years.

Cases rejected for not being covered by the ULS scheme

Alastair Quinn



Alastair Quinn

Despicable mental health nurse Alastair Quinn was supposed to look after extremely vulnerable dementia patients but instead he subjected them to horrific abuse.

Quinn was working in a senior position at Covent House Care Home, in Birtley, Gateshead, when he mistreated and abused a number of frail residents.

When one resident was dying, he said he wished he would “hurry up and die” so that his wife would no longer visit the home, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The cruel 58-year-old, of Waldridge Road, Chester-le-Street, who was convicted of eight offences of of ill-treatment of persons lacking capacity, was jailed for two years.

Dominic McCluskey



Dominic McCluskey

A cowardly thug flipped his ex under her bed, stamped on it and strangled her – after she dumped him when she found out the bombshell news he had previous for domestic violence.

Dominic McCluskey was jailed in 2016 after the then-trained cage fighter battered his girlfriend black and blue while in a jealous rage in an attack which began as she slept.

After starting a new relationship, he gave a woman a false surname but when she found out his real name and googled him, she was shocked and appalled at what he did to his ex, young mum Brogan Sloan.

Two days after the new girlfriend, a mum, told McCluskey their relationship was over, he turned up at her home and attacked her.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he flipped over a bed she was sitting on, throwing her to the floor with the bed on top of her, which he then stamped on with her underneath.

He went on to strangle her while uttering threats and smashed her phone against a wall.

McCluskey, 24, of South View, Stanley, County Durham, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was sentenced to 21 months suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work and a three year restraining order.

Michael Waites



Michael Waites, who burgled a family home in Sunderland

A terrified young girl was left living in fear that the “bad man” who burgled her family’s home will come back during the night.

The six-year-old went on a family shopping trip and returned to find a “wicked” raider had ransacked every room of their home, stealing £3,000 of property, including money from purses belonging to two children.

A court heard the little girl saw the aftermath of the burglary, including a forensic team searching her home and has been left traumatised.

Michael Waites, who has 109 previous convictions, admitted burgling the house in Sunderland but was spared prison.

The 38-year-old, of Mainsforth Terrace West, Hendon, Sunderland, was sentenced to 16 months behind bars, suspended for 18 months, with an eight month nighttime curfew.

Joseph Lennard



Joseph Lennard

Perverted pensioner Joseph Lennard sent “stomach churning” messages to what he thought was a 13-year-old girl – including claiming he had abused a six-year-old.

Lennard, 82, set up a profile online initially purporting to be a female called “Wendy13F” and made contact with a profile he believed was that of a child called Amy.

In fact, paedophile hunters Dark Justice were behind the decoy profile, a court heard.

But Lennard, who eventually revealed himself to be a man but lied about his age, believed he was talking to a girl who was 13 or had just turned 14 and sent hundreds of messages over a three week period.

While many were innocuous, he spoke to her about sex acts and sent a picture of male genitals.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he also claimed that when he worked as a lorry driver, he had been responsible for importing illegal immigrants and had been “responsible for a child sex offence with a child as young as six in India” and implied he had engaged in sexual activity with other children in the past.

Lennard, of Low Fell, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and possessing extreme pornography involving bestiality.

Lennard was sentenced to a three year community order and must sign the sex offenders register and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

Luke Gallagher



Luke Gallagher at Newcastle Crown Court

A paramedic was subjected to a disgraceful attack by a dog chain-wielding thug who also left an ambulance out of commission by smashing its window with bricks.

When a crew of lifesavers were called to an address in Blyth, they were met with violence for no reason by despicable Luke Gallagher.

A court heard he armed himself with a dog chain, which he swung at someone and clipped one North East Ambulance Service paramedic with it as he followed through, before punching the ambulance man in the face, taking him to the ground and ripping his shirt.

When the paramedic and his colleagues sought refuge in their ambulance, Gallagher picked up bricks and smashed a window of the vehicle, causing more than £1,000 of damage and injuring another member of the ambulance crew with the broken glass.

The 28-year-old lout then turned his violence on a police officer who turned up, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Gallagher pleaded guilty to three offences of assaulting an emergency worker, criminal damage and resisting arrest – but was spared prison.

Gallagher, of Blyth Street, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, who has 20 previous convictions, was sentenced to eight months suspended for 18 months and must pay £1,000 compensation for the damage to the ambulance and £400 to the main victim.

Kesa Malik



Kesa Malik

Speeding at more than 90mph in a 30 zone and doing a U-turn on the Tyne Bridge, it was one of the worst cases of dangerous driving police have seen and only ended when he ran out of fuel.

Kesa Malik was behind the wheel of a stolen VW Golf on cloned number plates when he put lives at risk to try to get away from officers.

The appalling driving in Newcastle and Gateshead was so dangerous, police had to pull out of the pursuit and only the police helicopter was able to keep up with him.

Helicopter footage shows him running red lights, driving into oncoming traffic and travelling at ridiculously high speeds.

Only when his fuel tank ran dry on Stamfordham Road, Newcastle did the 25-year-old, who was already banned from the roads, finally give up after 30 minutes being chased.

Malik, of Wingrove Gardens, Fenham, Newcastle pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, handling stolen goods – the car – driving while disqualified and having no insurance.

Malik was sentenced to 18 months suspended for 18 months with a three month curfew between 7pm and 7am and must do 150 hours unpaid work. He was also banned from driving for two years.

Marc Winter



Marc Winter

A “highly decorated” former police inspector with an “exemplary” career behind him left his wife with bleeding on the brain when he attacked her with a prosecco bottle.

Marc Winter went from serving and protecting to injuring and harming in a vicious assault on his partner, Selina, also a police officer.

A court heard he suddenly attacked her at their bungalow after they had been out for a drink and she ended up collapsing unconscious after finally getting out.

Winter, 58, who served with Northumbria Police for 23 years and Leicestershire Police before that, pleaded guilty to causing unlawful wounding.

A judge at Newcastle Crown Court said only his career as a police officer, which ended in 2016, saved him from going immediately to prison.

Winter, of Whitley Bay, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and was sentenced to two years suspended for two years and must do 120 hours unpaid work.

Rachel Turner



Rachel Turner

A family day out at the races ended in agony for mum Daniella Richards when a stranger left her with “napalm-like” burns by pushing a piping hot pie into her face.

Miss Richards went to Ladies Day at Newcastle Racecourse with her mum aunt, sister and friends to celebrate the birth of her child six weeks previously.

It was the first time she had been out and she was not drinking heavily as she was breastfeeding.

But her happy day at the Gosforth Park venue ended in horror when she encountered drunken Rachel Turner in the toilets.

Miss Richards was holding a piping hot chicken and mushroom Pukka pie, which she had taken the top off to let it cool down.

She said she was holding a door to the toilets open and Turner yanked it and starting swearing at her, including calling her a racist name.

Then, in a shocking and unprovoked attack, Turner took hold of the 29-year-old’s hand and forced it and the pie into her face and ear.

She then tried to fight her as her face burned from the hot pie filling.

Turner, of Planetree Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, admitted assault after the attack in July 2018 and was given a suspended jail sentence.

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Turner to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work.

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