A FORMER magistrate has been jailed for perverting the course of justice after she lied by denying she was the driver of a car that had been clocked speeding.

Karen Harvey was jailed at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday after she was convicted of speeding and of perverting the course of public justice, telling police her numberplate had been cloned.

The 57-year-old former magistrate of Leigh Sinton Road, Malvern showed no emotion as she was jailed for nine months on Tuesday. Harvey was convicted after trial of perverting the course of justice between April 16, 2018 and July 12, 2018 in that she 'did a series of acts which had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice in that you gave a false account, information and evidence to the police who were conducting enquiries into an allegation of speeding'. This related to a speeding offence on April 17 on the A40 in Pencraig when she exceeded the 50mph speed limit travelling to Monmouth.

The second offence of perverting the course of justice took place between November 18, 2018 and February 1 2019. This involved her altering the appearance of the numberplate and supplied photographs of it and told police 'her vehicle had been cloned'. Harvey last sat as a magistrate in 2015/16 and was placed on the supplemental list in 2017 which means she no longer sits in court to adjudicate or hear cases.

Lewis Perry, defending, asked for the judge to consider imposing a suspended sentence. In mitigation he said Harvey's life had entered a 'downward spiral since she split from her ex-partner' which led to her moving to the Sheffield area. He told the judge that her father had died in 2019 and that Harvey was now the only person providing day-to-day care for her mother.

"Without that her mother would simply be lost" said Mr Perry. Mr Perry also said she had faced the pressures of a job working in the NHS. However, according to a pre-sentence report supplied by the probation service, Harvey remains on long-term sick.

Mr Perry also said Harvey had a brother with cerebral palsy and that she continued to look after him 'as much as she possibly can'. The court heard that Harvey, who intends to appeal her convictions, suffers from a hyperthyroid condition and PTSD. He said she was in the process of obtaining more medical evidence which had not been put before the jury at the trial.

He also argued that she presented a low risk of reoffending for the future and had no previous convictions until these matters.

"She has never been in trouble before. It is very unlikely she will reoffend again," he said.

Recorder Charles Foster, who appeared over videolink, said Harvey had held down a responsible job, describing her as both 'able and intelligent' and had had a career as a magistrate where she had 'contributed to society' .

However, he said she had robustly denied being the driver, at one stage claiming the numberplate had been cloned. He said he understood that despite the jury's verdicts, Harvey maintained the account given at trial to the probation officer. Recorder Foster also stressed the importance of deterrent sentence.

He said: "I take the view that offences of perverting the course of justice are offences that are so serious they must be met by a custodial sentence. It's argued that the sentence might properly be suspended. I disagree."

The judge sentenced her to nine months in prison for the perverting the course of justice (both concurrent nine month sentences). For a further speeding on April 20, 2018 on the A4103 at Fromes Hill he imposed three penalty points and for speeding on November 19, 2018 he imposed a further five penalty points. Harvey can expect to serve half her prison sentence in custody and half on licence in the community.