Harrogate Police Station
Harrogate Police Station

Prison sentence for forged Covid 19 test to avoid bail conditions to attend Harrogate Police station


A crime suspect who used forged Covid 19 test results to try to dodge bail dates has been sent to prison for six months at Teeside Crown Court following investigations by North Yorkshire Trading Standards officers.

Lawrence Newbury, from Sandbach, Cheshire, was handed the sentence after submitting two forged Covid 19 tests showing positive results, used to avoid bail dates.

He had been arrested in  September 2020 on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud elderly and vulnerable people in relation to property repairs allegedly carried out at their homes.

That investigation is being conducted by Operation Gauntlet, a multi-agency team hosted by North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards.

He was subsequently bailed to attend Harrogate Police station on the December 18, 2020. However, the day before he was due to attend, Trading Standards staff were sent a test report from his solicitors claiming he had tested positive for Covid and was unable to attend.

Newbury was then re-bailed to January 14th  this year, but again, the morning before he was due to attend he submitted through his solicitors a further certificate from a different test house, also falsely claiming he had tested positive for Covid 19.

Investigations conducted by North Yorkshire Trading Standards proved both documents were forged.

Newbury was then re-arrested on March 16 and charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice and remanded in custody.

Newbury was also sentenced at the hearing to five months imprisonment for possession of an offensive weapon and to three months for driving offences, to run concurrently.

The sentence for perverting the course of justice offences was ordered to run consecutively to the concurrent sentence, giving a total of 11 months in prison.

The investigation into the alleged conspiracy to defraud is continuing.

Cllr Andrew Lee, Executive Member for trading standards said:

Given what all the country’s law abiding residents have been through over the past 15 months in relation to the Covid 19 pandemic, it is even more appalling that any individual would falsely claim to have Covid to avoid the justice system. Let alone on two occasions.

The Judge was clear about sending a message to others that such blatant disregard for the law will not be tolerated.


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