War veteran claimed dead dad was behind wheel of car filmed driving dangerously - Leeds Crown Court
A war veteran tried to claim his dad was behind the wheel of a car that was filmed driving dangerously on a country lane, despite him having died the week before.
Leeds Crown Court heard how the Honda belonging to former Royal Marine Paul Anthony Strutt was caught on another driver's dashboard camera as it swerved on a road near Featherstone on April 6 last year.
The footage captured just after 5pm in Went Lane, near the village of Purston Jaglin, showed the Honda was on the wrong side of the road before missing an oncoming Mini by a matter of inches.
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Prosecutor Robert Galley said the 55-year-old was sent letters by the police asking him to confirm who had been driving.
Strutt sent them his dad's death certificate which bore a different date to when he passed away, with the true date being March 31 last year.
He then went on to claim that it could have been his friend who was driving and insisted he could not have been behind the wheel himself as he was working in Doncaster at the time.
It later transpired that a document provided as confirmation of his whereabouts on the day of the incident was false. In fact, Strutt was working in a different location and did not start until 6pm that day.
Telephone mast data also showed his mobile was in the Went Lane area at the time of the incident.
After being quizzed by police, he said he was confused and did not know where he was working because he was "in pieces" over his dad's recent death.
Strutt, of Kinsley House Crescent, Fitzwilliam, later admitted a charge of dangerous driving and intending to pervert the course of justice.
Mitigating, Andrew Stranex said: "He described the period of March to July and August as being pretty much a blur. He said he just went to pieces. He was simply not thinking straight.
"His father was desperately ill. His finances were very complicated and it was left to Mr Strutt to organise the consequences of his father's passing."
The court learned Strutt served in the Marines for 20 years, having fought in war zones in Iraq, before being discharged in 2005. He went on to work as a private security officer in the Middle East, where he was nearly killed.
Since 2012, he had worked as a freelance security guard in the UK but now worked as a warehouse operative for Next.
Months after the dangerous driving on Went Lane, he was banned from the road for drink driving and then later for driving while disqualified.
Mr Stranex said that although Strutt had not sought help from his doctor, it was likely he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mr Stranex added: "He accessed a well-being service last year to come to terms with the difficulties he has faced. He is utterly ashamed of where he is at the moment."
The judge, Recorder Marco Giuliani, accepted Strutt has PTSD and was "living in a fog" after his dad's death.
He said: "Up until last year, you were a man of exemplary character who had served his country.
"It's clear you were having difficulties coming to terms with the death of your father.
"In that you were effectively having a mental breakdown at the time, the sentence can be suspended."
He handed him an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years. Strutt must also complete 300 hours of unpaid work and was banned from driving for 12 months.