Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Man Used Sayers Name in Attempt to Pervert Justice; Blackmailer Tried to Scare Driver into Changing Accident Story

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Man Used Sayers Name in Attempt to Pervert Justice; Blackmailer Tried to Scare Driver into Changing Accident Story

Article excerpt

Byline: By ROB KENNEDY

HE claimed to have turned his back on a criminal lifestyle in favour of driving a van.

But when a relative of Stephen Sayers was seriously injured in a road accident, he couldn't resist using his feared family's name for what he saw as a good cause.

Muriel Donnelly, who Sayers regards as an auntie, was left with catastrophic injuries when she was knocked over on the West Road, in Newcastle.

Despite being left in a coma and unable to look after herself for the rest of her life, she stood to land just pounds 250,000 in compensation because the accident was mainly her own fault.

So Sayers took it upon himself, along with Mrs Donnelly's partner, to put pressure on the driver of the car to change his statement and admit liability for the crash, which could have boosted the compensation payout into millions of pounds.

But the driver would not play ball and, having heard of the Sayers' reputation, informed police.

Now Sayers, previously sentenced to 10 years for blackmail in 1997, has been jailed for two years for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Guy Whitburn told him: "You put a considerable degree of emotional pressure on them by showing press cuttings showing the sad condition of Muriel Donnelly.

"The Sayers family is notorious in Newcastle and Stephen Sayers was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for a professional conspiracy to blackmail in 1997.

"Since release from prison in 2002 I'm told he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to distance himself from the miasma of his family's reputation.

"I accept Sayers was not motivated by financial gain to himself but the fact he was from such a notorious family, even if the victim was not aware of the conviction, was sufficient to put them into considerable fear.

"Any attempt to pervert the course of justice is serious and needs to be met by a substantial prison sentence."

Mrs Donnelly was hit by a car driven by Steven Stobbs in January 2005 as she crossed the West Road near its junction with Slatyford Road.

No action was ever taken against Mr Stobbs and the insurance claim was to be settled on the basis she was 90% responsible for the accident.

Her partner of 27 years, Joseph Ramsay, and Sayers, who regarded Mrs Donnelly as an auntie, although she is his dad's cousin, then set about hatching their plan to get Mr Stobbs to change his story.

Geoff Mason, prosecuting, said: "A handwritten note was posted through the door of the property where Mr Stobbs at that time lived with his partner.

"It said 'can you ring this number' and gave a phone number. Mr Stobbs phoned that number and the man on the end of the phone was Stephen Sayers, who said he wanted to meet to discuss the case. …

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