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UK News: Stanley man jailed after trying to 'coerce' witness into not cooperating with police investigation

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A man who was accused of driving over the prescribed limit deliberately attempted to "coerce" and "bribe" a witness into not co-operating with a police investigation.

Lee Holmes, 43, was jailed for 12 months for perverting the course of justice © Durham Police Lee Holmes, 43, was jailed for 12 months for perverting the course of justice

Lee Holmes attempted to pervert the course of justice by continually trying to persuade a witness in a case against him into not co-operating with the police. The 43-year-old turned up to a petrol station where the witness worked alone on various occasions and even tried to get the man to "destroy" evidence at one point. When that failed, he later tried to bribe the witness, Durham Crown Court heard.

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On Wednesday, Holmes, of Sylvia Terrace, Stanley, appeared at the court to be sentenced for two counts of intending to pervert the course of justice. He was found guilty of the offences after a trial.

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The court was told Holmes committed the offences over a number of weeks up until January 5 this year while he was under investigation for driving over the prescribed limit - for which he has since been dealt with. It was during that time that Holmes began turning up to a petrol station where a prosecution witness worked in order to "thwart" the investigation by trying to pressure him into not cooperating with the police.

Judge Jo Kidd, said: "It is clear from the victim that you regularly attended the petrol station, deliberately rather than opportunistically, when he was working alone in the early hours of the morning. He became increasingly unnerved about the conversations. On January 5 you took two children with you at 1.45am during lockdown. I'm satisfied you took children in order to put further stress on the victim, there is no other reason."

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Judge Kidd said Holmes was "seeking to coerce" the victim and "thwart" the investigation. She added: "The contact over the course of those weeks included you seeking to persuade the witness to try and destroy evidence. When you found that was of no benefit, you tried to seek to bribe him."

Susannah Proctor, defending, said it was a "deeply unsophisticated offence" and said "no real threats were made". She said: "The vague suggestion of threats was something the witness didn't consider to be a threat, he just thought it might be." Ms Proctor added that Holmes has "serious issues with alcohol which have plagued his adult life".

The court was told Holmes had 25 previous convictions for 42 offences and that the perverting the course of justice offence was "deliberate, targeted and sustained". He had also "accused victim of lying over the course of evidence", the court heard.

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Judge Kidd sentenced Holmes to 12 months in prison.

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