A COUPLE have admitted trying to evade responsibility for a car crash by making a false claim the vehicle was stolen on the night of the accident.

Tony Christopher Cowan and Karen Lorraine Dawson were today (Tuesday March 18) told to expect to be jailed when they return to Durham Crown Court for sentence next month.

Judge Christopher Prince gave the warning following their guilty pleas to one charge each of doing an act to pervert the course of justice, while Cowan also admitted driving without due care and attention.

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It follows an accident on the B6313 Pelton Fell Road, near Chester-le-Street, when a Mazda car crashed into a road sign, at about 10pm on May 17.

Police found a drunken man in the back seat but the driver appeared to have fled.

Cowan rang police the following day to report the theft of the car from outside his home and Dawson backed up his alibi as to his whereabouts the previous night.

But DNA evidence, recovered from the air bag and from a passenger seat belt, pointed to their presence in the car at the time of the accident.

Tony Davis, for both defendants, requested preparation of background reports on them prior to sentence.

Agreeing, Judge Prince said: “They have to appreciate even lying over who was driving can result in a custodial sentence.

“Both lied to evade liability and must expect to receive custodial sentences.”

Judge Prince added that as the pair previously indicated they would deny the charges, it will reduce the “discount” they will be granted on the length of sentence.

He bailed Cowan, 28, and 26-year-old Dawson, both of Ninth Street, Chester-le-Street, to return for sentence on Friday April 11.

Judge Prince also imposed an interim driving ban on Cowan, the length of which will be stipulated at sentence.