Ipswich: Man who pretended to be defendant ends up in dock

Man who pretended to be defendant ends up in dock

A MAN who did a mate a favour by pretending to be him at a court hearing ended up in the dock himself after police officers discovered what he had done, a court has heard.

Daniel Sparks was asked by his friend Christoher Southart to attend South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich where he was due to face charges of driving while disqualified and driving without insurance and pose as him, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Sparks “naively” agreed and ended up standing in court and pleading guilty to the offences, said Robert Sadd, prosecuting.

The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report but the deception was uncovered when police officers who wanted to speak to Mr Southart about other matters arrested Sparks as he came out of court thinking he was Mr Southart.

“The defendant changed his mind about being Mr Southart and told the officers who he really was,” said Mr Sadd.

He said Sparks had been promised a “modest” financial reward for taking part in the deception.

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Yesterday Sparks, 24, of Old Foundry Road, Ipswich, found himself in the dock at Ipswich Crown Court facing a charge of doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, which he admitted.

Sentencing him to a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years Judge David Goodin told Sparks he had been “astonishingly stupid” and was lucky not to be going straight to prison.

He said that Sparks had a number of previous convictions for offences of violence and he didn’t accept his mitigation that he wanted to help out a mate and hadn’t realised how serious it was.

“To say you went to magistrates’ court on behalf of somebody else to help them out and didn’t realise how serious that was is pathetic,” said the judge.

In addition to giving Sparks a suspended prison sentence Judge Goodin ordered him to do 150 hours’ unpaid work in the community and abide by a 12-week curfew.

Richard Kelly for Sparks said his client had been told by Mr Southart that he was running late for a court hearing and was asked to pick up some paperwork for him.

Mr Kelly said Sparks had acted “naively” at a time when he was short of money.

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