A FATHER-OF-FOUR who was landed in court after his Burnley letting agent tried to blame him for a driving offence, has spoken of his two-year nightmare.
Simon Maher, who used to work at Burnley Tesco, was falsely named as the driver when Noweed Parvez (36) had been caught speeding, and used the victim’s details to avoid prosecution and save himself from a ban, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Mr Maher, who was then convicted of the speeding offence in his absence, was distraught when a warrants officer later turned up at his home to arrest him while he was with his wife and young child.
Mr Maher said he suffered sleepless nights, weeks of stress and anxiety over what was happening to him and ended up before magistrates as he fought to clear his name.
Parvez, of Colne Road, Burnley, who has a record of 25 offences, and has served time behind bars before, admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was jailed for 12 months.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Maher said: “It has been an absolute nightmare.
“It has taken nearly two years to get this sentence and for justice to be done.
“I was not going to plead guilty to something I didn’t know about.
“It has always been about clearing my name and making sure justice was done to the right person.”
Mr Maher said he thought Parvez deserved the 12-month sentence – and he would have liked to have seen him locked up for longer.
He said: “Now, I feel it’s over with. I didn’t want compensation. I just wanted justice.
“I think the sentence was a bit lenient giving him just 12 months. It was a kick in the teeth.
“He has shown no remorse. He has never said to me ‘I hold my hands up and I’m sorry’. He just let it drag on and on.”
Michael Wallbank (prosecuting) said, in November 2010, the defendant was caught on the camera speeding in Darwen in a Volkswagon Golf.
In December, he was sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution, and returned it saying Simon Maher was driving at the time and gave his date of birth.
A notice was then sent out in the victim’s name to an address provided by the defendant.
Mr Maher never received the notice and was convicted in his absence by Hyndburn magistrates.
Mr Maher was eventually contacted and appeared before the court on warrant last September. He denied any involvement in the original offence and the case was adjourned for inquiries.
Mr Wallbank said, last October 11th, a police officer went to see Mr Maher, with photos of the offence.
It was confirmed he had not been at the wheel, and Mr Maher was able to identify Parvez as the driver.
Last November, the defendant was interviewed by police and owned up.
He claimed he had panicked as he already had points on his licence, thought he might be in danger of being disqualified, and falsely declared Mr Maher was the driver to avoid prosecution.
The prosecutor said, in his victim personal statement, Mr Maher told how when he was contacted by a warrants officer and read his rights, he at first thought it was a “wind up”, but then panic set in.
The officer insisted Mr Maher attend court with him as it was an arrest warrant.
The victim continued: “I was distraught. I had my wife and youngest child in the house and didn’t want them to see me being arrested.”
When he went to court, the charge was read out, he pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned.
Mr Maher claimed the prosecutor told him to “plead guilty and stop wasting the court’s time.”
Mr Maher said: “It wasn’t until the traffic officer made inquiries I was cleared of any wrong-doing. Stress turned to anger at the way I was treated.”
Nick Dearing (defending) said his client expressed great remorse for the fact Mr Maher had been “dramatically inconvenienced and put to much stress.”
The solicitor continued: “At the time of the offence, he had nine points on his licence. He needed his licence for his employment. To protect himself, he gave false details to avoid prosecution himself.”
Sentencing, Recorder Michael Blakey told Parvez the offence was extremely serious.
He added: “I would be failing in my public duty if I didn’t come to the conclusion that an immediate custodial sentence is justified.”