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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Cumbrian garden centre boss feared prison sentence, court told

The boss of one of Cumbria’s top garden centres was so worried about being jailed for drink-driving after writing off his Porsche in a crash he told the police he had not been behind the wheel, a court heard.

Thomas Hayes photo
Thomas Hayes

Thomas Hayes, 44, managing director of Hayes Garden World at Ambleside, claimed one of his contract workers had been driving while he sat in the passenger seat.

But magistrates did not believe him when he appeared before them on a drink-driving charge.

And nor did a judge when he later took the case to an appeal at Carlisle Crown Court.

And – prosecutor Brendan Burke said – “he was right to fear a short term of imprisonment, because that is what happened”.

Hayes, of Crook Lane, Kendal, is now back at the crown court accused of lying to the police and the courts in a failed attempt to get out of trouble.

Derek Henderson, 57, of Woodbank Terrace, Endmoor – who worked for Hayes and backed up his story that he had not been driving – is in the dock with him.

Both deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice, insisting that they were telling the truth when they said Hayes had not been driving.

Mr Burke rejected that claim, and told the jury that Hayes had lied – and persuaded Henderson to back up those lies – because he was “fearing the serious consequences of driving while not far off four times the legal limit”.

He said that as a “wealthy and successful man” Hayes was in a position to influence Mr Henderson into supporting his story.

“Whether it was with the inducement of money, promises of more work, better work or whatever his influence allowed, he needed the involvement of Mr Henderson to keep him out of prison,” he said.

“The essence of the conspiracy is that there was an agreement – and they carried out that agreement to the best of their ability.”

The court heard the Porsche had narrowly missed an oncoming car before hitting the kerb and overturning in Hollins Lane, Kendal.

Witnesses saw Hayes crawling from the wreckage but there was no sign of anyone else having been in the car with him, the court heard. It was only later that Hayes said he had been in the car with Henderson, who was driving because he knew he himself was unfit to do so.

Hayes said Mr Henderson’s own van was so filthy he refused to get in it, so he insisted on using his Porsche instead.

He told police that after it crashed he was so angry with Henderson he told him to go away, which was why the other man was not there when rescuers arrived.

The trial continues.

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