A MOTORIST whose car was seen speeding on a Cumbrian road lied to the police, claiming somebody had “cloned” his number-plate.

A judge at Carlisle Crown Court told 28-year-old Zain Ahmad that his foolish and doomed attempt to escape punishment for the minor speeding offence had come to close to earning him an immediate jail sentence.

The defendant pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke said the defendant’s car was photographed by a speed camera as it was driven at 48mph in a 40mph zone on the A66 near Kirkby Thore in the Eden Valley and a police notice was sent to the car’s registered owner.

It then emerged that the vehicle had recently changed hands, the original owner having just sold the car to the defendant.

When the notice of prosecution for the speeding offence was sent to Ahmad, he told police that he was not on the road at the time in question. He implied to the police that his number plate must have been cloned.

That was a lie, said Mr Burke.

“He repeated that claim, that his number plates had been cloned, to the court,” said Mr Burke, referring to a later court hearing when the prosecution was considered by magistrates. Police enquiries quickly established that the defendant bought the car in London and then drove it back to his home in Edinburgh.

Ahmad then fully admitted he had lied.

“He knew his number was up and admitted it straight away,” commented Recorder Paul Hodgkinson.  The Recorder told the defendant: “What a foolish thing you did.

“You were always going to be caught. And sure enough you were.” A good police investigation had quickly exposed the lie and the defendant was now receiving a far more serious penalty than he would have done for the speeding.

“You tried to circumvent the justice system,” said the judge. “You’ve obviously fallen at the first hurdle and you must be punished for that.”

Such offences ordinarily led to a jail term but the judge noted the defendant’s panic at the police station and his decision to come clean. Recorder Hodgkinson said that he felt he was “just able” to suspend the six month jail sentence he was imposing for a year.

In addition, Ahmad  must do 180 hours of unpaid work and pay a £500 fine. “You have been very lucky, “ said the judge, stipulating that Ahmad must serve seven days jail in default if he fails to pay his fine in the next three months.