Corby woman avoids jail after missing her own court trial

Jane Hill had been due to face driving offences

Jane Hill was caught driving while disqualified in Alexandra Road, Corby.
Jane Hill was caught driving while disqualified in Alexandra Road, Corby.

A Corby woman who did not turn up for a court trial has been given a final chance by magistrates after they heard she was in breach of a suspended prison sentence.

Jane Hill, 35, had been due to stand trial for driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and not wearing a seat-belt in Alexandra Road, Corby.

Northampton magistrates issued a warrant for her arrest on Friday (September 18) when she failed to appear at court. They held a trial in her absence and she was found guilty of all charges relating to an incident on August 9.

Yesterday morning (Thursday, September 24) Hill, of Stephenson Way, surrendered to police to appear via video-link from the Northamptonshire Criminal Justice Centre to be sentenced by Northampton Magistrates.

She also faced two additional charges of failing to surrender to the court and failure to answer police bail as soon as was practicable.

Yesterday's hearing was delayed by several hours after the defendant switched her legal representative. Hill was supported in court by her partner.

The court was told how Hill claimed to have been in hospital when the trial was taking place last Friday, although the court had not been informed in advance so the proceedings had gone ahead, costing in excess of £600 in legal and court fees.

Magistrates heard how Hill was in breach of a previous 12-week suspended prison sentence imposed by Leeds Magistrates in October last year. That sentence was imposed for criminal damage and for twice failing to supply a sample to police who suspected her of driving while intoxicated.

Hill had once before breached that order by failing to attend a probation appointment on March 4 this year.

Mitigating, Alistair Evans, said that Hill had suffered from mental and physical issues as well as recent difficulties at home.

A pre-sentence report said that she was now engaging well with the probation service.

The CPS agreed to drop the two charges relating to her failure to surrender on public interest grounds.

Magistrates told Hill that they would not activate the suspended sentence but would instead impose a 12 month community order with 20 days of women's services engagement and a 10 day substance misuse element.

She was banned from driving for three years.

Prosecuting solicitor Julie Costello, asked to court to impose costs of £650 on Hill for the trial that she failed to attend, saying: "I've mitigated the costs to take into account the defendant's circumstances."

But magistrates said that as her only income was universal credit they would instead order her to pay £300 costs plus a victim surcharge of £95 and a fine of £100 at a rate of £20 per month.

They told Hill that they would not be activating the suspended sentence but would instead be 'putting the responsibility on your shoulders' and that if she offended again, there was a high probability she would go to jail.