A trainee midwife who repeatedly lied about a car crash to protect her then-boyfriend, broke down in tears when a judge warned her she faced going straight to jail.
Exceptionally, because of Emma Whittle’s personal circumstances, he decided to suspend the sentence but she now has a conviction on her record and meanwhile her former partner Jamie Harrison has walked free from court.
Whittle, 31, had claimed to police and her insurance company that her BMW 320 VRM had been stolen from outside her Wirral home.
However, in reality she had been a passenger in the vehicle when Harrison crashed it after leaving the Wallasey tunnel.
Harrison, 29, denied attempting to pervert the course of justice, and a not guilty verdict was recorded after the the Crown said they had no evidence to offer to support the prosecution.
Judge David Swinnerton told disqualified driver Harrison, “There is evidence you were driving the car. It may be said that you got away with it.”
Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court t hat about 11.30 pm on Saturday February 1 last year the BMW crashed after leaving the Wallasey tunnel. “It had collided with the central reservation and the wall on either side of the carriageway.”
Another motorist saw a man, whom she believed had been driving, and woman getting out of the car and walking away.
Police attended and enquiries revealed that Whittle was the registered owner and they arrived at her home in Wimbrick Close, Moreton just 40 minutes after the accident.
Harrison, of Millhouse Mews, Moreton, was also there and Whittle told officers that they had been there all evening and she believed someone had used a cane to reach the car keys from the hall table and steal the car.
Mr Blasbery said that later investigations showed a couple had been in the car going through the tunnel to Liverpool at 7pm and returning about 11.30 pm.
The following day Whittle, mum of two, rang her insurers and made a claim. The car was written off and the company paid out £3,966 to her. When interviewed by police on February 20 she maintained she had come home from work that evening at 6.30 pm and the couple had stayed in watching television.
The airbags had been deployed in the crash and Whittle was asked for a DNA sample which she initially refused to give but eventually provided.
She declined to give Harrison’s phone number and her evasive behaviour led to suspicions and analysis of her mobile phone call record for February 2.
This showed it was used on the Wirral and then used in Liverpool at 7pm and then on the Wirral just after the crash at 11.35 pm when she rang her brother to pick her up and take her home.
When arrested and interviewed in August she declined to comment, said Mr Blasbery.
Sarah Holt, defending, said that Whittle has no previous convictions and as well as working part time and looking after her two daughters, who both have difficulties, she is training to be a midwife.
“She made a very very foolish decision and one that she regrets whole heartedly and has regretted ever since.”
She had acted on impulse and it had been out of character behaviour. If she was sent to jail her children would be sent into care and it would put her rented home and the career she wants to pursue in jeopardy.
“She has risked an awful lot because of the decision she made and stuck with,” said Miss Holt.
Get all the latest Liverpool breaking news, team news, transfer rumours, injury updates plus analysis of what's next for the Reds.
You'll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis every day for FREE!
Sign up here - it only takes a few seconds!
Judge Swinnerton told Whittle, “Because you told a lie on February 2, told to try and get away from the fact that Mr Harrison had been driving the car when he should not have been driving at all and crashed it.
“You wanted him to get away with that and it seems you achieved your objective but you haven’t got away with it.
"Your lie was compounded by the allegation to your insurance company and you obtained almost £4,000 as a result of the lie.
“You were a passenger in it when it was crashed by your then-partner Mr Harrison…..You have now jeopardised your career, your freedom and your girls lives - and all for the sake of that lie and a few thousand pounds.”
He told her that except in exceptional circumstances such behaviour had to be marked by an immediate prison sentence but said that jailing her would have a “significantly harmful impact on your children. That is the position you have placed them in by your foolishness and wrong doing and criminality in telling those lies.”
Judge Swinnerton said that she was trying to make something of her life and a future for herself and her children by training to become a mid-wife. “There is a shortage of mid-wives, it is a skilful and necessary occupation and having you as a trained mid-wife would benefit society.”
He sentenced her to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered her to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and 15 days rehabilitation activities.
Whittle had pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and fraud.
Harrison, of Millhouse Mews, Moreton, left court after the hearing with another woman, whom he sat next to in the public gallery after his acquittal.