Councillor jailed for perverting justice

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM A disgraced former Norwich city councillor was last night starting a four-month jail sentence after she was convicted of getting her teenage babysitter to make a false statement to help her get off a drink-driving charge.

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM

A disgraced former Norwich city councillor was last night starting a four-month jail sentence after she was convicted of getting her teenage babysitter to make a false statement to help her get off a drink-driving charge.

Single mother Samantha Allison, 39, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice after being involved in three trials to decide her case at a cost to taxpayers of thousands of pounds.

Norwich Crown Court heard that the former councillor for Thorpe Hamlet had a previous conviction in July 1995 when she was given a 12-month driving ban for failing to provide a breath specimen and would have automatically been given a three-year ban if convicted of another drink driving charge.

Jailing Allison who was in tears as she stood in the dock, Judge Jeremy Richards told her that she had involved a 15-year-old girl in making a false statement after she had failed a breath test.

"The purpose of obtaining that statement from the child was to avoid the inevitable consequences of a conviction for excess alcohol as it now transpires, given your previous conviction, it would have meant a minimum three-year driving ban."

Most Read

He added: "Offences of this nature are regarded by the courts as very serious and undermine the rule of law."

However he praised the work she had done as a councillor, particularly when she served on the executive, and said he had been impressed by evidence of her dedication and diligence in public service.

But he said the offence was so serious it could be marked only by custody and said: "Most right-thinking members of the public would expect the court to impose a custodial sentence."

Andrew Hurst, mitigating, said Allison was "vulnerable" and had a fragile personality and was a single parent with two young children.

He said custody would mean deterioration in her mental health and would be a "disaster". He added:"She is her own worst enemy."

Last night council Lib Dem leader Ian Couzens and other close friends of the councillor said they were standing by her and said her defence team was seeking leave to appeal.

During the trial the court heard how Allison was accused of making her 15- year-old babysitter write a false statement after she was arrested for drink driving at her home in Elizabeth Fry Road in Norwich in October 2003.

She gave a positive sample to officers but denied having driven her car.

After questioning, Allison was charged but denied the allegation claiming she had drunk red wine and an alcohol- based remedy only after getting home.

When the matter came to court she was acquitted of drink-driving but police continued to investigate the incident because Allison's complaint about the force's handling of the case.

It was during an interview of the babysitter by officers investigating Allison's own complaint that it came to light she had pressured the girl into writing a false statement to back her claim she had been drinking when she returned home.