Joe Colliver: had been a key part of the Micky Hammond team
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
By Neil Hunter 8:00PM 5 AUG 2016
CONDITIONAL jockey Joe Colliver has been jailed for lying about a drunken car crash and paying a friend £2,500 to take the blame and save his promising career.
Colliver – who rides out of Micky Hammond’s yard at Middleham, North Yorkshire, and partnered 26 winners last season – was told by a judge: “This was seriously criminal.”
The 25-year-old rider would probably have received only a fine and driving ban if he had admitted being behind the wheel of the truck involved.
Instead, he was jailed for ten months and has put his career on hold – if not at serious risk – for hatching the plan with his associate Lewis Purdie.
Purdie, 26, agreed to tell police he was driving the Mitsubishi L200 when it crashed into a wall in Leyburn in the early hours of Boxing Day.
But police – praised by the judge for having doubts about the accounts – found Colliver’s blood all over the footwell and driver’s side door.
The pair finally admitted they had been lying when they were confronted with the evidence, Teesside Crown Court was told.
Judge Tony Briggs told Colliver: “You made a determined attempt to evade responsibility and offered your co-defendant money to take the blame.
“That pretence continued through part of the police investigation, and the truth of the matter was only acknowledged as late as May.”
‘Not a callow teenager’
He continued: “Obviously, any attempt the pervert the course of justice by behaving in this way strikes at the very heart of justice and custody is inevitable.
“There is an abundance of material before me which indicates in normal circumstances you are honest, reliable and hard-working, and had been subject to a number of considerable pressures.
“That may be so, but you are 25 and you are not a callow teenager.”
Defence barrister, Robin Denny, said Colliver panicked after the 12.30am crash and feared he would lose his job if he was banned from driving.
He told the court: “Once he started on this trail, he obviously went on with it, and that’s a very bad thing. I don’t think he had the sense to realise how serious this was going to be viewed.”
Duncan McReddie, for Purdie, said he agreed to take the blame so he could get the money to pay off debts to loan sharks – run up to fund his gambling habit.
“He understands that at the age of 26 he must take responsibility to defeat this addiction,” said Mr McReddie. “He has the promise of employment in the scaffolding trade when he is released.”
Colliver, of Park Lane, Middleham, and Purdie, of Rousham Gardens, Middlesbrough, admitted perverting the course of justice. Colliver also pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol, and was banned for 17 months and fined £250.
Praise from Hammond
Hammond gave testimony on Colliver’s behalf, and described him as “top dollar”, adding: “He has been key to our recent success.”
Colliver – who has ridden 58 winners over the last five seasons – fought back after a fall at Cartmel last May that left him without the use of his right arm and hand for a time.
He joined Hammond’s stables in 2009 as a 17-year-old and had his first race-ride two years later, the court heard.
The trainer said: “Prison would make it extremely difficult for him to get back to where he is at present, two wins away from being on level footing with the best.”