Driver demolished woman's garden wall in Hartlepool - then told police it had been stolen with baby's ashes
An unlicensed driver with mental health problems demolished a garden wall then lied to police about his car and his baby’s ashes being stolen.
Ashley Rafferty, 35, claimed his Ford Fiesta had been stolen during a burglary together with a PlayStation 3 and safe containing the remains of his son who died of cot death.
Police spent 10 hours investigating the claims, even issuing a press release, Teesside Crown Court heard.
But inquiries, including witness reports and DNA from the car’s airbag, proved Rafferty was behind the wheel.
The car crashed through an 8ft high brick wall of a woman’s house in Eskdale Road, Hartlepool, at about 8.30am on Boxing Day last year.
Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said the mum was awoken by the loud bang but when she looked out the driver had gone.
About half an hour later, Rafferty rang police claiming his home in Eskdale Court had been burgled after a house party the previous night and had heard his car had crashed into the wall.
Rafferty, who has epilepsy, claimed he had received a call from the mobility car company to check if he was alright after the crash set off a sensor.
He maintained he had been burgled and someone from the party had taken keys, the computer and safe containing the baby’s ashes.
Miss Atkinson said: “The officer had some concerns about the truthfulness of the defendant’s account.
"Scene of crime attended the scene and took a swab from the deployed airbag which came back with a match to the defendant’s DNA which indicated he had been the driver at the time of the collision.”
A search of Raffety’s home also uncovered a small urn and receipt showing he had sold the PlayStation.
He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, trying to pervert the course of justice, and having no licence or insurance.
Ben Pegman, defending, said his client’s mental health had spiralled badly down while going through a divorce and being isolated.
He said Rafferty was now in stable accommodation and getting help.
Judge Howard Crowson said he had risked harming others and wasted police time.
He said Rafferty’s mental health problems and subsequent progress meant he could take an “exceptional” course and suspend the 18-month prison sentence for 12 months.
He was also handed an 18-month driving ban.