'Greedy' Sheeran and Lady Gaga ticket tout jailed

Ed Sheeran playing guitar and singing
Ed Sheeran was among those whose tickets were used as part of the touting business [PA Media]

A woman who ran a multi-million pound touting business which bought and sold tickets on an "industrial scale" has been jailed.

Maria Chenery-Woods was the driving force behind Norfolk-based TQ Tickets Ltd, which used dozens of identities to buy tickets for high-profile acts such as Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga before reselling them online, often at highly inflated prices.

The 54-year-old was sentenced to four years at Leeds Crown Court, alongside her employee Paul Douglas, who was jailed for two years and five months.

Judge Simon Batiste said Chenery-Woods, of Dickleburgh, had acted "out of greed".

"Your aim was to rinse or fleece customers out of as much money as you could," he added.

Chenery-Woods' husband, Mark Woods, and her sister, Lynda Chenery, who is also Douglas's ex-wife, were given suspended prison sentences for their part in the enterprise.

They were found guilty of fraudulent trading by a jury earlier this year, while Chenery-Woods and Douglas had admitted the same charges.

The court heard how TQ Tickets sold tickets worth more than £6.5m between 2015 and 2017.

But Judge Batiste said this figure only covered part of the period the company was trading.

It did not include hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of unsold tickets that trading standards officers found when they raided its offices in Dickleburgh, Norfolk.

Lady Gaga performing
The company resold concert tickets at inflated prices for stars including Lady Gaga [Getty Images]

The judge explained how TQ Tickets used a file of more than 100 identities to buy tickets from primary selling sites like Ticketmaster.

These identities included a 10-year-old child, a dead relative and others that were completely fake.

Judge Batiste said the firm "created a web of criminality" as they also "corrupted" students and other young people into buying tickets for them.

The firm would then resell the tickets - often at vastly inflated prices - on secondary ticketing platforms such as Viagogo.

"Some secondary ticketing sites and, indeed, possibly some primary sites, were complicit in what you were doing. But that provides no mitigation," Judge Batiste added.

Sobbed uncontrollably

During the trial, the jury heard statements from Ed Sheeran's manager Stuart Camp and promoter Stuart Galbraith, who described the "extensive measures" they went to as they tried to prevent the re-selling of tickets at inflated prices for the singer's 2018 UK stadium tour.

Following the verdicts, Mr Galbraith said: "Today's verdict is good news for live music fans, who are too often ripped off and exploited by greedy ticket touts."

Lynda Chenery, 52, also of Dickleburgh, sobbed uncontrollably as she was sentenced to 21-months, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

While Mark Woods, 60, of Dickleburgh, was given a two-year suspended sentence. He was also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and told he must observe an electronically monitored curfew overnight for four months.

The defendants will face a confiscation hearing on 2 December

Lord Michael Bichard, chairman of National Trading Standards, said the sentencing was "another significant milestone in our work to combat online ticket touts".

Follow Norfolk news on Facebook, Instagram and X. Got a story? Email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk or WhatsApp us on 0800 169 1830

More on this story

Related Internet Links