A former planning inspector who falsely claimed her Spanish cousin had been driving her car when it was caught speeding twice in a week has been jailed.
Angela Banks’ Citreon C5 was caught by speed cameras in Bierton driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone. She had a clean licence at the time.
There has to be a serious obligation to tell the truth. The system of attributing responsibility for driving offences would quite simply collapse without that obligation.Mr Recorder Simon Blackford
A court heard on Thursday that the 52 year old, of Shereway, Fairford Leys, had not only lied on two forms by claiming her cousin was the speeding driver, but had also lied to a police officer who visited her home.
Police discovered the lies after working out that the time and place the car was caught on speed camera coincided with Banks’ daily route to and from work.
Prosecutor Philip Farr said that she now accepts she was the driver, but she had maintained her innocence throughout the trial, after which a jury found her guilty of two counts of making a false statement without oath under the Perjury Act.
Banks looked close to tears as she sat with her head bowed throughout the hearing, during which she was jailed for three months.
Defending Lesley Bates told the court that her client had resigned from her job after the conviction because she felt she could no longer command the honesty or integrity required of a planning inspector.
“She was informed that she would be able to remain in her position as a planning inspector, but she would be disciplined,” she said.
“She informed them after careful consideration that she would in fact resign. She felt no longer able to put herself forward as a person of honesty and integrity.
“It says a great deal about her that despite being given the opportunity to fight for her job, which she had been highly commended in her work, that she chose to take the course of action that she did.”
The court heard that following her conviction Banks might also have to give up her role as a volunteer gymnastics coach.
Miss Bates said Banks was ashamed and remorseful and had also been helping look after her frail father.
She added: “As a result of her giving her evidence your honour may conclude that she was a proud and dignified lady who maintained control as best she could.
“She is genuinely remorseful, her admissions have been made because the consequences have come crashing down on her.
“She is a lady who now feels crushed, she is unable to stop crying and uncontrollably shaking. She is ashamed and she is fearful.”
Miss Bates said the conviction has already had a disastrous effect on Banks’ life and appealed for a suspended jail sentence because no one had been falsely convicted because of her lies.
“The obvious aggravating factor is the degree of persistence,” she said.
“Unlike some offences of this nature there was nobody else accused or convicted as a result of her actions.”
Mr Recorder Simon Blackford ordered that the female security dock officer sit next to Banks because she had fainted twice over the course of the trial.
He told Banks that her lies about who was driving the car were never going to survive real scrutiny and if she had come clean she would not have been facing jail.
“Those statements that you made at that time were unlikely to survive any real investigation,” he added.
“The offences were committed on exactly the route that you took every day, or just about every day, to work and exactly the sort of time that you would be travelling to work.
“Following your false declarations you were sent a further form in which you repeated the lie that you had told.
“It was made clear to you if you had come clean at that time and said that you were the driver that that was going to be the end of the matter.
“But you didn’t take that course of action. You were then visited by PC Davies of the fixed penalty unit.
“Again if you had come clean at that stage you would have avoided the consequences which you now face.”
Mr Blackford told Banks that if every driver lied about who was driving their cars it would bring the system down.
“The integrity of the system of enforcing driving offences and penalties is highly dependant on the registered keepers telling the truth,” he added.
“There has to be a serious obligation to tell the truth. The system of attributing responsibility for driving offences would quite simply collapse without that obligation.
“The two offences you have committed are so serious that only prison sentences can reflect the seriousness of what you have done.
“You are 52 years of age, with no previous convictions. Not only do you have a responsible job in the planning work that you do, but you have done all sorts of good work both by way of your coaching of gymnastics and also the responsibility you have discharged within your family.
“The effect of the conviction has already had a very substantial effect on your life. You are remorseful.
“I have considered whether I can suspended the sentence. But I am afraid there are two aspects of these offences which seem to me that there is only one sentence that I can pass - that is a sentence of immediate custody.
Banks’ speeding offences were not prosecuted as the delay in establishing the identity of the driver exceeded the statutory six-month period in which a speeding prosecution must be brought.