THE family of a dead man blamed for a speeding ticket hit out last night at the "cruel" con-artist who brought them fresh heartache.

David Hughes was named as the driver on forms filled in by Eileen Metcalfe after her car was clocked at 36mph in a 30mph zone.

She already had nine points on her licence and feared she would be banned from the roads under totting-up rules, a court heard.

Loading article content

Correspondence was sent to Mr Hughes - who died suddenly aged 26 in 2009 - and was returned by the new tenant of his former home.

Police inquiries found the details in the document submitted by his friend, mother-of-five Metcalfe, could not be true.

Metcalfe then came up with what a judge called a "nonsensical" explanation.

And she later told probation workers that she thought Mr Hughes' family would "find it funny", Teesside Crown Court heard.

After the case, his distraught mother, Evelyn, told The Northern Echo: "I can't believe she could do this - how she could be so cruel."

Metcalfe was due to deny the charge of perverting the course of justice and was facing a trial last month when she changed her plea.

She claimed she was filling in the speeding form at the same time as ordering a commemorative urn for Mr Hughes and got mixed up.

The judge, Recorder Graeme Cook, gave the grandmother an indication last month that she would not be locked up if she pleaded guilty.

After reading a report from the Probation Service following an interview they had with her, he said he felt like changing his mind.

During the session, Metcalfe showed no remorse, had no understanding how her crime had caused heartache, and found it humorous.

The judge said: "I believe you deliberately went out to avoid any points on your licence.

"Your explanation, which I saw in your defence statement, I find that nonsensical, and I do not accept it for one second.

"The person whose details you gave had been dead for some four years. One can only imagine what the family of Mr Hughes went through.

"Had I known a lot of this from the pre-sentence report about you, I may well have had a different view about immediate custody.

"You seem to have a total lack of conscience, a total lack of regard for the offending you carried out and the effect it might have on the deceased's family, and you say they might have found it funny."

Mr Hughes' mother sobbed uncontrollably when the Echo broke the news to her afterwards, and said: "Yeah, look at me laughing.

"It's devastating, it's disgusting, more so because she was a friend of David's. I don't know how she thought we'd find it funny."

Metcalfe, of West View Road, Hartlepool, was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision.

Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, told the court that she has "a number of challenges" and is the carer for two of her 11 grandchildren.

Metcalfe admitted perverting the course of justice after the car was clocked speeding near her home last May.

After the hearing, she still maintained it had been a mix-up.

"I had a form for the urn and the speeding form on the table, it's a madhouse in here at times, and I put the wrong name in," she said.

There was no commemorative urn at the cemetery when Mr Hughes' family visited yesterday or Thursday - the fifth anniversary of his death.