A WOMAN who lied to police that her car had been stolen after she crashed it, and tried to fraudulently claim for it on her insurance, was given a curfew and driving ban.

His Honour Judge Jackson told Lorna Gallagher the offence of perverting the course of justice and fraud usually attracted an immediate custodial sentence, but said it was an “exceptional case” as he chose not to jail her.

Harinderpal Dhami, prosecuting, told Worcester Crown Court that Gallagher had been driving her Skoda in the outskirts of Malvern on August 8, 2017, when she came off at a bend and went into a wall.

Mr Dhami said after police arrived they found the crashed car had been left abandoned and, following enquiries, discovered it was registered to Gallagher. Police went to her home in The Avenue, Welland, and she was not there, but her then partner, a Mr Kitchin, said the vehicle had been stolen and so she could not have been driving it at the time of the crash.

Mr Dhami said Gallagher later repeated this lie to police in a statement. “On the 12th August the defendant contacted the Liverpool Victoria insurance company to report the theft of the vehicle,” he said. “The insurance company stopped the claim (after becoming suspicious).”

He added that if Liverpool Victoria had paid out it would have cost them around £2,500.

We reported at the time that police were appealing for witnesses to the crash in Madresfield Road, Malvern, with officers releasing an image of the crashed car. In the press release of August 10, they said the car had been reported stolen.

Jason Patel, defending, highlighted that Mr Kitchin, who later died, had been the one to start the lie. On the false insurance claim, the barrister pointed out that if his client had stayed at the scene of the crash it would have been an accident she could have made a valid claim for.

Mr Patel added that the 47-year-old had been an addict but had addressed this to the point she was no longer on a methadone prescription, and appealed for any custodial sentence to not be immediate, saying she had a daughter who was reliant on her.

Sentencing Gallagher, Judge Jackson said: “You were not the person who started the lie, it was initiated by Mr Kitchin. The relationship was an abusive one, you were on the end of the abuse. You could not stand up to him.

“You made a witness statement to the police, and told the story of the car key burglary, and repeated it to the insurance company. The insurance company became suspicious and stopped the claim.

“I do come to the conclusion that this is an exceptional case, and it would not be justified to order an immediate custodial sentence.”

Judge Jackson gave Gallagher a three month electronically monitored curfew, an 18 month community order with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days, banned her from driving for six months, and ordered her to pay victim surcharge.

The case was heard at the crown court on Thursday, June 25.

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