A motorist who created an extraordinary web of deceit to avoid a speeding ticket has been jailed for 12 months.
From claiming a Frenchman with the same name as a famous wax museum in Paris was driving, to doctoring documents, to blaming a second mystery man in the most northern part of the British Isles, Christopher Henry went to extreme lengths to dodge the speeding offence.
But despite all his efforts to avoid justice, the dedication and determination of a Hampshire officer has finally seen the 52-year-old behind bars following a two-year investigation.
Today Henry, who was found guilty of three counts of perverting the course of justice by a jury, was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court.
Henry, of Church Road, Weston-on-the-Green, Oxfordshire, was jailed for 12 months with the judge describing him as a “fantasist” akin to “Walter Mitty”.
The court heard how this complex investigation began back in February 2016 when Henry was caught speeding by a mobile camera van on the A343 Newbury Road, Hurstbourne Tarrant, driving his ex-wife’s Freelander.
Rather than accept the £100 fine and three points on his driving licence, Henry embarked on trail of deceit that lead to enquiries in the Outer Hebrides and with French Interpol.
When the speeding ticket was sent to his ex-wife, who was then the registered owner of the Freelander, Henry was able to intercept the mail and completed the paperwork in her name, claiming a French man, living at his address, was the driver and the new owner.
Paperwork was sent to the French national, and these documents were returned claiming a man from the Isle of Lewis called George Harris was in fact the driver.
When officers could find no record of either man, they made contact with Interpol who found that the name of the French man was the same as that of a wax museum in Paris, and his address was a nearby hotel. Enquiries with the hotel showed that a Mr Musee had never stayed or worked there.
They then spoke to the post mistress on the Isle of Lewis, who had lived on the island her whole life and she knew nothing of a Mr Harris, Mr Musee or Christopher Henry.
Further investigations of the paperwork found Henry’s fingerprints and not those of his ex-wife, were on the documents and that the Frenchman’s name had also been given to Avon and Somerset Police when an Audi TT registered to Henry was caught speeding in August later the same year.
Henry, who consistently denied having driven or had any access to the Freelander, was then caught out when officers got voice recordings of him calling the AA out on two separate occasions when he broke down in the Freelander.
During the trial the court was given evidence showing how Henry had also provided false dates of sale to the DVLA, set up a false email address and doctored emails from insurers, all in an effort to cover his tracks.
The jury took just 40 minutes to find him guilty of all three counts.
PC Richard Jewell, from the Safer Roads and Summary Justice Unit, said “Hampshire police and our Safer Roads team takes road safety very seriously.
“It is not right that certain individuals will try and avoid their responsibilities under the Road Traffic Act by lying about who was driving to avoid police or court action.
“This case shows that such claims are investigated and, where evidence exists, prosecution will follow.
“In his sentencing, the judge has sent a clear message to those that might consider such deceitful actions. He would have got points and a fine but now he has a criminal record and time in prison! Is it really worth such a risk?”
Henry did not respond to the original speeding notice and was prosecuted for failing to provide information.
He was found guilty in his absence and fined £800 and given six points.
He appealed this but the case was upheld and the fine was raised to £1,600 and he was disqualified for three months.