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Former Cleveland Police boss: "I am the sheriff"
A POLICE authority chairman facing a corruption probe told a witness who had spoken to detectives: “You don’t know what I could do”, a court heard.
Dave McLuckie is accused of using a series of veiled threats after hearing a friend had spoken to detectives connected to Operation Sacristy.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority referred to himself as “the sheriff” and said the police were his “deputies”.
McLuckie is accused of going to the home of Peter Blyth on two occasions to quiz him about what he knew about two police investigations involving the former Redcar and Cleveland Borough councillor.
On the second occasion, Mr Blyth said the defendant became agitated and annoyed when he learnt he had spoken to Sacristy officers, a corruption investigation into people with former associations with Cleveland Police.
The jury heard that the former police boss was also being investigated for perverting the course of justice after he persuaded a friend to accept three points on his behalf to stop him getting a driving ban.
McLuckie had obtained a copy of a police document purporting to be from Nancy Ward, the widow of Maurice Ward, who took the points on his behalf.
Mr Blyth said he started waving her statement in his face claiming it could drop the witness “in the s***”. He told the court that McLuckie said to him: “If this gets into the wrong hands, just think what it could do to you – you could lose your house.”
As McLuckie left the 66- year-old former taxi driver’s home, Mr Blyth told the jury the defendant said: “I hope you haven’t dropped me in the s***. There’s you and one or two others – you don’t know what I can do.”
When asked how he reacted to the defendant’s comments, the witness said: “He always had the air of authority about him, he was in charge. You always had the thought that you just do as he asks and then it’s over.”
He was asked if he felt fear when McLuckie became agitated.
“Not physical fear,” he said. “What he said wasn’t nice. It did make me apprehensive and you started to think afterwards, ‘What did he really mean?’.”
Under examination from defence barrister Julian Smith, Mr Blyth told how McLuckie had once described himself as the sheriff and Cleveland Police officers as his deputies when the witness worked as an unofficial taxi driver to him.
He told the jury that he had no idea who had reported the allegation of witness intimidation to the police.
“I don’t know who reported it. It certainly wasn’t me,” he said. “I was going to leave it.”
When asked why McLuckie had come to his house to discuss the statement of Mrs Ward, Mr Blyth said he thought it was to cause trouble.
“I thought he was trying to drive a wedge between me and Nancy, and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he said.
Mr Smith asked the witness what the defendant had said when he learnt Mr Blyth had given a statement to the police about Operation Sacristy. He replied: “He said, ‘Why didn’t you just tell them to p*** off?’.”
The jury heard that Mr Blyth had a criminal record dating from 1968 to 1985 for a variety of offences, including burglary and handling stolen goods. Accepting his previous record, he said: “You do things when you are young and stupid.”
The court heard that the witness had also been ordered to pay £2,500 to Customs and Excise when he was caught using red diesel in his taxis before he was forced to retire following a car crash several years ago.
Earlier, the court heard that McLuckie, who was convicted of perverting justice in the summer, is still on bail after he was put under investigation with others, including former Chief Constable Sean Price, as part of Operation Sacristy. McLuckie, of Linden Grove, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, denies a single charge of witness intimidation.
The case continues.