When Joseph McBrearty was arrested for drink driving in April 2001 he decided to give false details to the police arresting him at the time. He gave the name of Rory O’Donnell and backed up his identity with a fake US driving licence which he had obtained in the United States to enable him to drink while he was still under the legal age. Under this fake identity Mr McBrearty was sentenced to a 1 year disqualification and fined £170.
Some weeks later Mr McBrearty’s deception was discovered and he was charged with perverting the course of justice, a far more serious offence. He attended the Crown Court in relation to this charge but before he could be sentenced he simply walked out of the Court building and was not heard from again. A warrant was issued for his arrest but he remained undetected, that is until he was arrested last month following a skirmish outside of a pub.
Mr McBrearty was then detained in custody for a month pending his hearing at Maidstone Crown Court. When he appeared before the Court he admitted the offence of perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. Judge Byers said whilst passing sentence, ‘There must be a clear message that such behaviour will not pay in the long run.’
There seems to be a clear drive within the Court system to ensure that those found trying to pervert the course of justice are not only sentenced for the offence itself, but also punished as a warning to others who are considering the same decision. Earlier this year MP Chris Huhne was sentenced for the same offence, again the original offence had been committed some 10 years earlier.
In both of these cases the original offence was far less serious than the resulting charge of perverting the course of justice. Whilst the temptation is no doubt there for many people to provide incorrect information to the police, either in blind panic or a determined attempt to avoid a criminal prosecution, the message coming from the Court system is clear; it may take time but eventually you will be prosecuted, and the punishment will be far, far worse.
By Alex Garner, motoring offences team