Many people have been accused of having ‘Walter Mitty” type characteristics but none as apt as one UK motorist who did everything possible to avoid a speeding ticket fine of £100 last week.
It took police two years to track Christopher Henry down after he led them on a merry dance through Oxford, Hampshire, France and the Outer Hebrides.
This case perfectly demonstrates how one lie can lead to so many others. Full marks have to go to the police for unravelling the web of deceit.
Vehicle sold to fictional characters
Whilst driving his wife’s vehicle (a Land Rover Freelander) in February 2016 Henry broke a 30mph speed limit in Hampshire. When stopped he wouldn’t take the ticket and then went to awe inspiring lengths to avoid it.
Firstly, he managed to intercept mail from the police, related to the offence, which was posted to his ex-wife. He sent it back to the police stating that the vehicle had been sold to one Grevin Musee in France.
He provided an address for the ‘new owner’ which transpired to be a hotel located close to the well known waxworks tourist attraction, the Musée Grévin! The fine correspondence was duly sent to this address in Paris, Henry again intercepted the mail. On this occasion he returned it stating that ‘George Harris’ who lived on the Isle of Lewis was responsible.
Police naturally were unable to locate either of the fictional characters and enlisted the services of Interpol. It was discovered that there was no George Harris on the Isle of Lewis and the connection between the waxworks museum and Grevin Musee was made.
Attention swings full circle
As a result, police attention refocussed on Henry. They were able to recover recordings of calls he had made to the AA for breakdown recovery. He had made two such calls at times when he wasn’t supposed to be the owner of the vehicle. In addition the police matched his fingerprints to those found on the mail they had received.
Jailing Henry (aged 52) for one year, the judge at Winchester Crown Court characterised Henry as a fantasist like Walter Mitty. This fictional character comes from a short story written in 1939 by John Thurber, entitled “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. He was a weak, ineffectual man who fantasised variously about being a surgeon, pilot and a murderer. His ‘life’ ended in tragedy when he was shot by a firing squad.
In the process of evading the fine Henry, who lives in Oxfordshire supplied the DVLA with false dates as to when the vehicle had been ‘sold’. He also falsified insurance emails and created a fake email account in the cause of concealing his nefarious activity.
Perverting the course of justice
Henry was not present in court when the jury convicted him of 3 charges of perverting the course of justice. Henry had pleaded not guilty but it only took the jury 40 minutes to find him culpable.
Previously Henry had picked up a 3 month driving disqualification, 6 points and a £1,600 fine for failure to respond to the speeding ticket and to provide information.
The irony is that had he just paid the fine, he would have collected some penalty points but wouldn’t have gained a criminal record.
Consequences when you avoid a speeding ticket
By far the best way to avoid a speeding ticket is to keep within the speed limit. However, if you are caught on camera or by the police and you know you have broken the law, just pay the fine. The minimum fine you will get is £100 but that can escalate immeasurably when you play games like Henry did.
Had the police given Henry a lie detector test in the first instance, this wouldn’t be a story.