Ex-teacher crashed in car park and tried to deny it - until he was shown CCTV

Court News
Court News
Have your say

A RETIRED teacher crashed into another car at a retail park then tried to hide the evidence by moving his car to another space – denying involvement until he saw himself on CCTV.

When he finally admitted he had caused the damage, Fintan Clarke, a former assistant head teacher who retired from Sunderland’s Portland Academy in 2013, claimed he did not realise he had to report the damage.

The 58-year-old, who still carries out supply work, miss-judged a gap when he pulled into a bay at the Galleries Retail Park in Washington on June 15 last year, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Just minutes later, Clarke returned to his Ford Mondeo and moved it away from the Renault Clio he had damaged, before continuing to shop in Aldi with his wife.

Prosecutor John McGlone said Clarke, of Winston Crag, Village Lane, Washington, was seen bumping the Clio at about 11am by a witnesses sitting in her car nearby.

Mr McGlone said the witness’ attention was drawn by ‘a loud bang’ and that damage was caused to the car’s wheel arch and bumper.

“Mr Clarke reversed back before re-attempting the manoeuvre. He was in company of a lady. He walked around his vehicle before he and the female when into Aldi. Mr Clarke returned alone a few minutes later and moved the vehicle to another bay.”

The witness left a note on the Clio’s windscreen with her contact details and when police visited Clarke at his home, they noticed that his car was damaged.

“Mr Clarke confirmed he was the driver but denied any kind of involvement in any road traffic collision,” Mr McGlone said.

“He viewed the CCTV footage and confirmed he was the male in the Mondeo.

“He accepted he had hit the car but made no effort to check for damage.”

Clarke admitted failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

Gavin Sword, defending, said: “I think that his lack of understanding of the provisions of the Road Traffic Act is prevalent in a lot of people. You wouldn’t necessarily regard what is a minor bump in these circumstances as an accident that needs to be reported. In fact, any accident that results in damage has to be reported or you have to stop at the scene.

“He is a retired teacher who has never been in contact with the courts or in any trouble with the police. Coming to court has been quite and ordeal in itself.

Clarke was fined £272 and his driving licence was endorsed with six penalty points.