Rugby dad jailed after lying to protect daughter

Warwick Crown Court sits at the justice centre in Leamington
Warwick Crown Court sits at the justice centre in Leamington

A protective father lied to the police about who was behind the wheel when his pregnant daughter reversed a van into a parked car and then drove off.

Keith Nelson, 51, of Fareham Avenue, Rugby, was jailed for four months after he pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutor Mark Phillips said that in June last year there was a minor accident after a van was reversed off the drive of a house in Banbury Road, Rugby, into a car parked partly on the grass verge opposite.

The van, which witnesses noticed was being driven by a female, stopped briefly before being driven away.

The owner of the car, who had visitors at her home, asked one of her guests to go across the road to speak to someone at the house the van had just left.

But when there was no-one at home, she called the police to report the accident.

Later the occupier of the house opposite, Nelson’s father, came across and said his granddaughter had been involved in the accident and had panicked and driven off, but that they would sort it out.

Then Nelson also visited the owner and also volunteered that his daughter had been driving.

But the police had already become involved – and when Nelson, as the registered keeper of the van, was sent a notice of intended prosecution he indicated on the form that he had been the driver.

Because the police had been told the driver was a woman, they interviewed Nelson who maintained he had been behind the wheel, adding that he had offered to pay for the damage.

Mr Phillips pointed out that it was not clear whether Nelson’s daughter would have been insured.

When she was arrested the day before her father in relation to failing to stop after an accident, she denied being the driver.

“There are no proceedings against the daughter. She was never charged with perverting the course of justice, and I’m not aware she was ever charged with any offence,” added Mr Phillips.

David Everett, defending, said the offence was “totally out of character” for Nelson, who is a ground worker in the building industry.

“If his daughter had stayed, there would probably have been no proceedings at all. My client’s insurance paid for the damage.

“She was eight months pregnant and she panicked, and this is a case of a father coming to the rescue of his daughter in a foolish fashion.”

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told Nelson: “it was when the police became involved that you made the very big mistake of deciding to say it was you who was driving – and you were interviewed later in the year and maintained that account.

“What you got yourself involved in was a very serious offence because if people lie to the police about what happened it undermines our system of justice.

“It is always very sad to see a man of your age and history in the crown court facing such a serious matter.

“But what I have to bear in mind as well is public policy – and the rule is that a message must go out that if people tell lies to the police, they must go to prison except in the most exceptional cases.”