A disgraced doctor who lied to police that he was the driver of a car that crashed into a parked Jaguar to cover up for his uninsured wife has escaped an immediate jail sentence.
Maduka Ogweuleka and his wife Chioma, from Chatham, were both convicted of perverting the course of justice.
A judge told the 34-year-old haematologist, who has worked at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford: "I do not propose to visit your stupidity on your children."
Dr Maduka Ogweuleka and his wife Chioma. Picture: Mike Gunnill
He was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment and his wife to four months, both suspended for 12 months.
Ordering a £3,000 contribution to costs, Recorder Cairns Nelson QC told Dr Ogweuleka: "It seems to me you have caused the public a huge amount of money with your stupid lies."
"I suspect neither of you had any idea of the seriousness of this matter and how seriously this is treated in this country..." - Recorder Cairns Nelson QC
The Nigerian-born couple, of Aspen Way, denied the charge - maintaining Dr Ogweuleka had been driving at the time.
Maidstone Crown Court heard Mrs Ogwueleka, 37, was seen to drive off following the crash with Gary Case's car in Sedge Crescent, Chatham.
Prosecutor Richard Cherrill said she returned a short while afterwards in her Vauxhall Astra and told Mr Case she had to take her children to school or they would be late.
"At that stage you may think she was fully accepting the truth, however unfortunate it had been for her that she was the driver," Mr Cherrill told a jury.
But she was not insured to drive the car and her husband subsequently made a statement claiming he had been the driver.
The doctors worked at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford
Mr Case's neighbour, lorry driver Paul Bentley, told how he was looking out of his kitchen window when he saw the Astra hit the Jaguar on March 11 last year.
He watched as the car stopped and a woman got out of the driver's door, looked at the Jaguar and then drove away. There were no L plates on the car.
"He recognised her as someone who lived in Aspen Way," said Mr Cherrill.
Mr Bentley told his neighbour and they were inspecting the damage when Mrs Ogweuleka returned alone in the Astra.
Mr Case told her she should not have left the scene of an accident.
The Ogweulekas leaving Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: Mike Gunnil
Mr Cherrill said there was discussion about sorting out payment for the damage without going through insurance companies and Mr Case said he would get a quote.
About an hour later, Mr Case went to the Ogweuleka home and spoke to the wife. She was somewhat rude, he said, so he decided to report the incident to his insurance company, said the prosecutor.
Mr Case was told Mrs Ogweuleka was not insured to drive the car.
A couple of days later, the couple went to Mr Case's house. Dr Ogweuleka said he had been driving at the time and would pay for the damage.
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
Passing sentence, Recorder Nelson said: "This has brought shame on you, particularly you Dr Ogweuleka. For you to let this happen is spectacularly stupid.
"However, I take the view nobody is to benefit from you going to prison immediately. Justice can be done by suspended sentences.
"I suspect neither of you had any idea of the seriousness of this matter and how seriously this is treated in this country."
Dr Ogweuleka said in evidence: "I was not lying, absolutely not. I have very many reasons not to lie. I would lose my career, everything I have worked for in the last 30 years. I would lose my house, everything. I haven't lied in this court - absolutely not."
The judge said Mrs Ogweuleka would be dealt with by magistrates for having no insurance and driving with out being accompanied by a qualified driver.