Widow said dead husband drove car

Derby Crown Court
Derby Crown Court

A widow dodged two speeding tickets by claiming her husband was driving – even though he had died a year earlier.

Former business owner Catherine Goodwin got away with it until she applied for a passport in her husband’s name, sending in the photo of a man she had met in Spain.

Civil servants became concerned and alerted police who found Goodwin’s husband, Alan, died in 2007, Derby Crown Court has heard.

But he had two speeding fines recorded against him in 2008.

Six penalty points were put on his driving licence and the £60 fines were paid by his wife. Details of the speeding incidents were sent to her home and she replied to say her husband was the driver.

Alex Wolfson, prosecuting, said: “The DVLA didn’t realise he had passed away until these matters were drawn to their attention.

“Somewhat bizarrely and for no apparent reason, this defendant later made an application for a British passport in the name of her late husband, who passed away in 2007.”

The first application was made in 2011 but was returned to her.

Goodwin made a second one, again in the name of her late husband, and included the photograph of a man who has never been identified.

Goodwin, 60, of Mill Street, Ilkeston, was jailed for six months.

She admitted two counts of perverting the course of justice and two of making fraudulent applications to get a passport.

Steve Gosnell, in mitigation, said she had no penalty points on her licence and so did not risk a ban because of the speeding tickets.

He said: “There would be an increase in insurance but this is clearly not the situation where somebody has nine points and gets a partner, grandfather or uncle to take the points so they avoid disqualification.”

She was “primary carer” for her husband, who had cancer.

When he died, she suffered from depression and discovered he was in debt. That resulted in “loan sharks” chasing her, said Mr Gosnell.

He said: “There were debts with legitimate companies and loan sharks were also coming out of the woodwork. Her husband had passed away and she had no one to turn to.

“She was not thinking clearly, not thinking as she would normally. She was not aware of the seriousness of what she has done.”

The court heard Goodwin used to own a printing business and was a trained bookkeeper. After being widowed, she lived in Spain and was ordered by debt collectors to produce her husband’s passport.

She used a photograph of a man she met in Spain. Mr Gosnell said: “She signed it to say it was a likeness of her husband. There is no sophistication. She gave her phone number and email.”

Judge Ebrahim Mooncey told Goodwin: “It sounds quite callous what you did.

“Perverting justice is attacking the very fabric of the justice system.

“Your husband may have been very demanding and a spendthrift and you spent a lot of time looking after him before he died. But that doesn’t excuse what you did.”