Pastor jailed for lying over two speeding offences

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A PASTOR has been jailed for two months for lying about driving his car when he was twice caught speeding in South Yorkshire.

Joao Mafuta, 42, a minister with the Congolese congregation in Rotherham, was clocked travelling at 36mph in a 30mph zone by a speed camera and, later the same day, doing 49mph in a 40mph zone, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

When notices were issued to him as the registered keeper of the car he claimed he was in the United States on the first occasion and was resident in France at the time of the second.

Investigations began into the November 2010 offences and he was arrested in March last year.

He admitted providing false details and was going to be summonsed just for speeding – but a reviewing lawyer decided it was a more serious case.

Mafuta, of Hatherley Road in Eastwood, Rotherham, eventually admitted two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Dermot Hughes, defending, produced in court 100 glowing references from Mafuta’s family, friends and members of his congregation asking for the court’s mercy.

His client was of “very high standing” in his community and dedicated to their well-being. “He is thoroughly ashamed of himself,” said Mr Hughes.

He had been engaged on affairs for the Congolese community when the incidents happened.

Mr Hughes added: “Jailing him would separate him from his family and the consequences would be catastrophic. He is fundamentally a decent man.”

But Judge Michael Murphy jailed Mafuta for two months and said: “The kind of offences you have committed are all too prevalent and all too easy for people to commit. Word has to go out that anyone thinking of committing an act intending to pervert the course of justice will receive punishment whoever they are.

“This undermines the system and therefore I have to say it is my duty to impose an immediate sentence of custody.”

Barry Smith from the South Yorkshire safety camera partnership said following the sentencing: “Whilst the majority of drivers that are caught speeding will complete the paperwork honestly, there are a number of drivers that do not.

“These cases are fully investigated and, if found guilty of perverting the course of justice, the driver is likely to receive a higher fine and more stringent penalty than if they had admitted to speeding in the first place.”