A MAN pressured his wife into backing his spurious bid to evade responsibility for a drunken car crash, causing £30,000-worth of damage, a court heard.

Having returned home shortly after colliding into a parked car and a wall, before abandoning his badly damaged Mitsubishi, Andrew Slater persuaded his wife Suzanne to ring the police to claim their home had been burgled and the intruders had taken the car keys.

But Durham Crown Court heard that a witness saw Slater walk away from the accident scene, near his home in Newton Aycliffe, and, despite his attempt to mislead police, he eventually admitted being the driver.

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It culminated in the 38-year-old, of Skipton Close, being jailed for two-and-a-half years, at Durham Crown Court, after admitting perverting the course of justice, dangerous driving, failing to stop after, and report an accident, plus no insurance.

The former hgv driver was also banned from the roads for a total of six years and three months.

His wife Suzanne, 35, who “reluctantly” went along with Slater’s plan to shift blame for the crash, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, after admitting perverting the course of justice.

The court heard she is of previous good character, but her husband has a long record for motoring offences.

Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said the latest offences took place on April 15 last year, when the couple were entertaining friends at home and an intoxicated Slater took his reluctant friend for a drive in the Mitsubishi.

A passing pizza delivery driver confirmed the occupants disembarked after the crash and walked away, identifying Slater as the driver.

When police went to his nearby home quarter-of-an-hour later, he denied driving the car and repeated the claim that their home must have been broken into, saying that not only were the car keys taken, but also a wedding ring.

Jonathan Harley, for Slater, said his client conceded he was the “driving force” behind the false burglary claim and acknowledges he put his wife into the difficult position of having to back it up.

Mr Harley added that Slater’s heavy consumption of alcohol, particularly whisky, on which he could binge, was behind his offending, but, having learned a “harsh lesson”, he has abstained for the last two months.

Ben Pegman, for Suzanne Slater, said she acted under duress to assist her husband, which she regretted, “from the outset”.

Jailing him, Recorder Ray Singh told Slater he put his wife under “emotional pressure”, just to try to cover his tracks.