Mother who falsely claimed BMW hire car had been stolen is spared jail

Mother-of-two beautician, 29, who claimed her BMW hire car had been hijacked in a robbery to cover up for her boyfriend’s hit and run is spared jail

  • Candice Clarke, 29, rang police at 4am and falsely claimed car had been stolen
  • She made phone call 45 minutes after her boyfriend Billy Bowen’s hit and run
  • But police were suspicious over length of time it took to report non-existent theft
  • Clarke, of Manchester, was given six months imprisonment, suspended for year

A beautician who claimed her BMW hire car had been hijacked in a robbery to cover up for her boyfriend’s hit and run has been spared jail.

Candice Clarke, 29, from Hulme, Manchester, rang police at 4am and falsely claimed the 118i M Sport Shadow had been stolen – just 45 minutes after Billy Bowen ploughed it into an oncoming car while fleeing a police patrol in 2018.

In a bid to avoid her boyfriend being implicated over the collision, the mother-of-two said she had been sat inside the vehicle at 7am the previous morning when a man approached it and ordered her to get out before driving off.

But police became suspicious over the length of time it took Clarke to report the non-existent hijacking, detaining both her and Bowen over the crash.

Candice Clarke (pictured), 29, from Hulme, Manchester, rang police at 4am and falsely claimed the BMW hire car had been stolen – just 45 minutes after Billy Bowen’s hit and run

Later in a basis of plea, Clarke said: ‘We had an argument and Billy took the car. 

‘A short time later, he told me that he had had an accident in the vehicle and said I should report that the car was stolen. I did this knowing it was not true but I felt under pressure from him, so I did as he asked.’

At Manchester Crown Court, Clarke admitted perverting the course of justice and was handed six months imprisonment, suspended for a year. 

Bowen, 29, was given a suspended prison sentence for dangerous driving but was later jailed after he was caught throwing a drunken party outside his home during the first nationwide lockdown.

The scam occurred in 2018 after Clarke hired the BMW for two weeks from a car rental company at Manchester Airport and was the only named person insured to drive the vehicle.

Paul Treble, prosecuting, said: ‘Police noticed it [the car] because of its erratic driving. It went through a red traffic light, and as a result, a PC driving a liveried police car put on his emergency equipment.

‘The car failed to stop and at times, it was driven on the wrong side of the carriageway, and eventually as a consequence of that, collided with an on coming car. 

‘The other motorist appeared to be injured and the constable took the view that it was more important to go to the help of the driver than carry on pursuing the BMW which was driven away from the scene.’ 

Clarke (pictured outside court with her head covered next to her solicitor) admitted perverting the course of justice and was handed six months imprisonment, suspended for a year

Regarding Clarke’s phone call, he said: ‘The police officer had his suspicions that she wasn’t telling the truth as she couldn’t describe the robbery, and there was no explanation why she waited over 20 hours to tell the police what happened.

‘She was warned about lying to the police but said she understood that but maintained her story and she contacted the car rental company and said that the car had been stolen in a robbery. Scientific evidence proved Billy Bowen was the driver.’

Bowen pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in October 2019, and he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, 180 hours of unpaid work and a two-year disqualification. 

But in May last year he was jailed for nine months when he hurled abuse at police while holding a glass of vodka in his hand and tried to claim a gathering of 15 people in a field opposite his back gate was his ‘hour’s exercise.’

In mitigation for Clarke, defence counsel Roger Brown said: ‘They were in a relationship for a short period. That ended, but it then entered a new phase and it was a coercive and controlling relationship.

Bowen, 29, was given a suspended prison sentence for dangerous driving but was later jailed after he was caught throwing a drunken party outside his home during the first lockdown

‘She did feel under pressure from him and on the day she was away from her family. Mr Bowen was angry and instructed her on what to do. She did it without thinking as it was from a background of years of being controlled by that man.

‘Mercifully, the police didn’t believe her but did what she was told without thinking it through. Mr Bowen is the cause of everything, but she accepts she went along with it. She knows what she has done is wrong.’ 

Sentencing Clarke, Judge Hilary Manley told her: ‘This was an unsophisticated attempt by you to pervert the course of justice and it was doomed to fail.

‘It was perhaps reported in a half-hearted way, doing what you were told by a man who was behaving in a coercive and controlling way towards you. But you went along with what he told you to do. Perverting the course of justice does strike at the heart of the criminal justice system.

‘I take into account that you didn’t start providing witness statements and getting yourself deeper and deeper involved and I am satisfied that at the time, you were in some form of coercive and controlling relationship.’ 

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