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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Popular South Lakes garden centre boss jailed after crashing Porsche

THE disgraced boss of one of Cumbria’s best known garden centres is to be investigated on suspicion of perverting the course of justice after resorting to “desperate measures” to avoid a prison sentence for drink-driving.

Thomas Hayes – the 44-year-old managing director of Hayes Garden World at Ambleside – was today (TUES) jailed for 18 weeks after failing in an appeal against a conviction for crashing his Porsche while nearly four times the legal drink-driving limit.

And afterwards Cumbria's top judge, the Honorary Recorder of Carlisle, Paul Batty QC, ordered the details of the case to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions so that Hayes and another man – contract worker Derek Henderson, who gave evidence during the appeal hearing – could be investigated for allegedly lying.

The prison sentence was originally imposed on Hayes in December, when South Lakeland magistrates found him guilty of being the driver of the car when it crashed and flipped onto its roof in Burneside one Sunday afternoon in November 2010.

He immediately lodged an appeal against the conviction, insisting that it was Mr Henderson who had been driving, and he had only been sitting in the passenger seat.
Hayes, of Crook Road, Kendal, claimed he knew that he was still unfit to drive after drinking “a considerable amount of alcohol” with friends the night before, so he asked Mr Henderson to drive him to a shop in Burneside for some bread and milk.

He said he was so angry when Henderson crashed the car he told him to “get out” – which he did.

This explained, he said, why nobody else was around when witnesses saw him clambering out of the wreckage through the smashed window in the driver's door.

Henderson, who had been fixing a fence at Hayes' converted farm on the day of the crash, gave evidence in support of this story, saying that on Hayes' instructions he had got out of the car by opening the door – something that the mechanic who recovered the crashed Porsche said would have been impossible – and escaped over a field.

But Judge Batty, sitting with two magistrates, rejected this explanation as “unlikely in the extreme”.

He said Hayes was “a man who is desperate to avoid conviction and desperate to avoid criminal responsibility, and is prepared to take desperate measures . . . and in that regard he has failed.”

In addition to the prison sentence Hayes was banned from driving for 33 months and ordered to pay the £850 costs of the failed appeal hearing.

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