An unlicensed driver left a car on its roof after crashing into a car park trolley bay - with a child in the back of her car.

Lucy Mellis initially accepted driving the VW Golf on September 26, 2020, when she spoke to a 999 call handler from the scene in Banbury’s Gateway shopping centre car park.

But the woman’s partner, Brandon Gorgen, went on to take the rap for the crash, claiming to police officers called to the car park crash site that he’d been behind the wheel.

Mellis, 41, was breathalysed at the scene and found to be over the drink drive limit, but was not taken to the police station for a full breathalyser test as officers were told she’d not been driving. A half-drunk bottle of cider was found in the vehicle.

When he was tested at the roadside, Gorgen, 38, was not over the alcohol limit.

A young child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, suffered a cut to his leg. He was taken to hospital, where the wound was fixed with four stitches.

A week and a half after the crash, Gorgen called the police and admitted lying about being the driver.

Mellis later provided police with a statement in which she accepted driving the Golf. He suggested her then partner had given her a ‘go with it look’, but she denied deliberately lying about who was driving in order to avoid a conviction for drink driving.

Bicester Advertiser: File image of Banbury Gateway car park Picture: LUCY FORDFile image of Banbury Gateway car park Picture: LUCY FORD

Ronan McCann, for Mellis, asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence. The crash had been a ‘wake up call’ for her and there was a reasonable prospect of her being rehabilitated.

Gordan Austin, for Gorgen, said his motive in lying at the scene was to protect his then partner. He had worked full-time since moving from South Africa to the UK in 2011 but gave up the job three months ago due as a result of the stress of the case.

On the day of the trial, Gorgen, of Harrier Way, Bicester, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. Mellis, of Wellington Avenue, Banbury, admitted child neglect.

Both were given nine months’ imprisonment suspended for a year and a half.

Imposing a three month curfew, 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and banning her drom driving for a year, the judge told Mellis: “You undoubtedly presented a significant risk to the public when you committed this offence.

"Whilst I accept it was a quiet car park you could have easily killed not only one of the occupants of your car but anybody else who happened to be there.”

Gorgen was ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work and up to 59 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

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