‘Stupid’ friend lied to protect gang member

A gang member who lost control of his girlfriend's car in a police chase was helped by a "stupid" friend who claimed he was at the wheel.

Patrick Duggan, 26, is currently serving a 154-day sentence for breaching the terms of a gang injunction order made to stop him blighting Birkenhead.

He was caught in Wirral on the same day police seized a Land Rover, six scrambler bikes and a Rolex watch.

Duggan was locked up on May 7, but appeared at Liverpool Crown Court again today, alongside Connor Nixon, 23.

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Nixon tried to take the rap for Duggan, who was banned from the road and knew he couldn't drive again until he passed an extended retest, after an incident on March 20 last year.

Police seized six scrambler bikes in Wirral in May

An officer spotted Duggan driving a grey Citroen Picasso, with a male passenger, on the Beechwood estate at 2.05pm.

Neil Bisarya, prosecuting, said officers then saw the car driving at high speed along Park Road North in Birkenhead at 2.55pm.

They activated their sirens but Duggan sped away and drove on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic at a bend.

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Mr Bisarya said: "Mr Duggan lost control while having to make a sharp manoeuvre to the correct side of the road, to avoid a collision with oncoming traffic."

Duggan ended up mounting a kerb, then got out and fled, leaving the engine running, with the keys in the ignition.

He ran into a garden, climbed over a fence and escaped, but officers apprehended his passenger, a man referred to in court as only "Kieran".

At 9.50pm, Nixon walked into Wallasey Police Station and told an officer he had been the driver of the Citroen.

Nixon wasn't arrested, but police later contacted him to arrange an interview for perverting the course of justice.

On April 4, Duggan attended a voluntary interview and claimed Nixon had borrowed the car with the permission of his girlfriend, Camille Morgan.

He denied being in the car – a claim backed up by supposedly "sorry" Nixon when he spoke to police on June 7.

Nixon gave a prepared statement, which he said was written by his mum, but he signed of his own free will.

He told police he couldn't remember the date and couldn't answer any specific questions about the car or his driving.

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The court heard Ms Morgan told police she allowed Duggan to lend her car to a friend who was moving some items.

Duggan, of Fender Way, Woodchurch, Prenton, was set to stand trial, but later admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

He has 28 convictions for 44 offences and in 2015 was jailed for six months and banned from the road for a year for dangerous driving.

The majority of his offences are for dishonesty and public order, but in 2018 he was convicted of assault and criminal damage in Ibiza.

He is subject to a two-year gang injunction order, along with Kieran Salkeld, 25, and Sonny Watkinson, 31.

Duggan breached the order in May and was not set to be released from prison until July 23 at the earliest.

Neil Gunn, defending Duggan, said if he wasn't already in jail, he would have urged the judge to spare him prison.

He said Duggan's rate of offending had slowed down since his youth and asked for a sentence "with some light at the end of the tunnel".

Nixon, of Farmfield Drive, Beechwood, Prenton, who has two convictions for four offences – all for possessing drugs – admitted perverting the course of justice.

Brendan Carville, defending Nixon, said he acted out of "misguided loyalty" and it was "a stupid attempt" to try and stop Duggan being convicted.

He said his client was younger than Duggan, with a limited criminal record, adding: "This is a classic case of misguided loyalty."

Judge Louise Brandon said Nixon maintained a "wholly false account" that he was the driver, but was flummoxed by questions about the chase, adding: "Of course you couldn't have answered them, even if you wanted to."

She said Duggan also claimed Nixon was driving, but he was responsible for "dangerous and aggressive driving" in the early afternoon, when other motorists and pedestrians would have been around.

The judge said: "It's pure good luck that nobody was injured or worse by your driving."

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She jailed Duggan for 10 months and hit him with a further 25-month driving ban.

Judge Brandon told Dixon: "It's clear you made a deliberate decision to try and help a mate by lying to the police, not on one occasion, but on two."

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She said fortunately officers did not believe him and accepted he was remorseful, adding: "You said this was a stupid mistake and you and I can agree on that."

The judge handed Dixon eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

She ordered him to complete a Thinking Skills programme, 10-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 180 hours of unpaid work.