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Canterbury journalism student narrowly avoids jail after lying to police about dad's driving blunder

A "foolishly loyal" daughter has narrowly avoided prison after attempting to cover up for her dad's driving blunder.

Sena Akdogan - a first-year journalism student in Canterbury claimed she was behind the wheel when her father crashed her car into two others and drove off without stopping.

Akdogan is a student at Canterbury Christ Church University. Picture: Rosina Sharrock
Akdogan is a student at Canterbury Christ Church University. Picture: Rosina Sharrock

The 21-year-old feared she would be in trouble for allowing her dad - who had neither a licence or insurance - to drive the vehicle.

Following the crash in December 2018, police tracked the owner through the registration number plate and sent a request for details, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

It was then that Sena turned her hand to creative writing and claimed she had been driving when considerable damage was done to one of the vehicles.

Only Judge David Griffith-Jones QC heard the student, from St Michaels near Tenterden, forgot one of the rules of journalism and failed to check the facts.

Because the crash was witnessed by a neighbour, who reported to police that it was a man at the wheel.

Akdogan appeared at Maidstone Crown Court
Akdogan appeared at Maidstone Crown Court

Sena was taken to the police station for questioning and initially repeated her lie until she was confronted by the eyewitness account, said prosecutor Martin Yale.

It was then she admitted the truth and was promptly charged with perverting the course of justice - an offence which usually carries an immediate jail sentence as punishment.

Her barrister, Steve Mould, said: "She just showed naïve, foolish loyalty to her father. She was just like a rabbit caught in headlights."

But the judge retorted: "What on earth was she thinking? She had nothing to gain from this deception."

Mr Mould said Akdogan "comes from a traditional Turkish family" and had "never told her father that she had lied on the court forms".

"I am sticking my neck out in giving you this final chance. You have been a lucky young woman"- Judge Griffith-Jones

Omer Akdogan was later charged with motoring offences and fined by magistrates.

Mr Mould said Sena had now embarked on a three-year journalism BA course at Canterbury Christ Church University.

The judge told the aspiring investigative reporter that Britain's senior judges had urged courts to jail people who pervert the course of justice.

He added he was not going to send her to prison immediately, adding: "Maybe because of the time of year."

Judge Griffith-Jones said: "I am going to take a merciful course because I have no desire to blight your future but you have escaped going straight to jail by the skin of your teeth.

Akdogan was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, by Judge David Griffith-Jones
Akdogan was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, by Judge David Griffith-Jones

"I am sticking my neck out in giving you this final chance. You have been a lucky young woman."

Sena was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work for the community.

For the next four months she will also have to stay at her university residence in Parham Road, Canterbury, between 8pm and 6am.

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