Woman jailed after faking her own death in a bid to avoid driving convictions

2 March 2022, 22:02

Zoe Bernard has been jailed after she attempted to fake her own death
Zoe Bernard has been jailed after she attempted to fake her own death. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A woman who faked her own death in a bid to avoid prison for driving offences has been jailed for eight months for perverting the course of justice.

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Zoe Bernard, 38, was already banned from the roads when she was arrested for driving carelessly and failing to stop in Kilburn, north London, in November 2020.

Posing as her sister Shanice in phone calls to police between December 15 2020 and January 27 2021, she said "Zoe" was ill and had then died.

Bernard then applied for a death certificate from Westminster Register Office in a failed bid to bolster her claim, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Her barrister Margo Munro Kerr said her client has physical and mental health problems and has suffered a string of tragedies, including losing her uncle and eldest daughter in the Grenfell Tower fire.

But Judge Martin Beddoe jailed Bernard, from Kensington, west London, for eight months, of which she will serve half after she previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

"This offence was clearly the result of some degree of thought and planning by you," he said on Wednesday.

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"I am quite satisfied this was an effort on your part to deceive the police.

"You already had a very bad record for driving matters and you knew full well the trouble you were in.

"You set out to pervert the course of justice.

"You attempted to convince the police you were dying and had died. To reinforce that lie you tried to get hold of a death certificate."

The court heard that Bernard has a string of previous convictions and was jailed in October 2019 for drink-driving and driving while disqualified.

When stopped by police in November 2020, she gave her name as Kyesha Bernard, then during the investigation.

"Shanice" called police claiming "Zoe" had been ill and then died.

An online request was made for a death certificate but it was not issued because no death was on the register.

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Prosecutor Gregor McKinley said: "It is our case the defendant was contacting police pretending to be her sister and making this application to the registration office."

Bernard was prosecuted in the magistrates' court in December last year and handed a six-month curfew after being found guilty of driving without insurance, failing to stop, driving while disqualified and careless driving.

Defence barrister Munro Kerr said: "These are the actions of a very unwell person in a way that is going to harm herself more than anyone else.

"This is such a strange way to act. It was so obvious the police would find out this was a lie. It was not rational."