Mum Who Drove Away From Court Following Driving Ban Spared Jail
A mum who was photographed driving away from court after receiving a driving ban has been spared jail.
Hotel housekeeper Simara Knopka - who does not have a valid UK driving licence - was pictured pulling away from Manchester Crown Court earlier this month, moments after she had been handed a two-year road ban.
The 39-year-old - who lives in Macclesfield and is originally from Brazil - was warned by the judge that she faced time behind bars if she got behind a wheel again after she caused a head-on collision while driving the wrong way down a motorway.
Yesterday (Friday 20 November), Knopka admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance and was given four months custody, suspended for two years.
She was also fined £1,000 ($1,300) and ordered to pay £340 ($450) costs.
Sentencing, Recorder Nick Clarke QC told her: "When I sentenced you, many might have regarded my original sentence as lenient. But you repaid the mercy I showed you on that day by immediately driving home.
"The real aggravating feature here is your flagrant disregard for the court order I made.
''You were arrested and spent a day in a police cell and five nights in jail and it was thoroughly deserved. It will have bought home to the public how important it is to obey court orders.
"It clearly shows a proper and timely response by the courts and police. Your apology is accepted.
"This sentence need not be immediate but you need to make sure you comply with the order and the suspended sentence or you will find yourself back in jail."
Knopka had originally been convicted of dangerous driving after she drank two glasses of wine then drove the wrong way along the M60 near Worsley, while checking Google Maps on her phone at 1am on 28 May.
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She subsequently crashed her son's Nissan Micra into an oncoming Nissan Qashqai as she was about to exit onto a slip road.
Tests showed Knopka had 26 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - under the 35mg legal limit.
As well as being handed the driving ban, Knopka was fined £600 ($790) with £210 ($280) costs and was ordered to be electronically tagged as part of a 8pm-7am curfew.
Speaking in court yesterday, Craig MacGregor prosecuting said: "Having been given the opportunity by the court, the defendant left the court building with your honour's warning still ringing in her ears and decided to drive home.
''The driving was caught on camera by an eagle-eyed press photographer and if it had not have been for him these offences would have never have come to light. This was a brazen, if not barefaced disregard for orders of the Crown Court.
''Police arrested the defendant at her home address later that day. She was interviewed at the police station and admitted the offences. That choice to drive should have come as no surprise as she had clearly driven to the court for the hearing, even though banned."
Her lawyer Thomas McKail said: "Until this year she was a woman who had never been before to the courts in the UK or Brazil.
"She asks for an element of mercy today although she appreciates that may be a big ask having last appeared on 5 November. She pleaded guilty to these offences and the previous offences and accepts her decision to drive to and from court on that day was a lapse of judgement.
"Her friend had agreed to drive her to court but she was let down by her friend Rafa who sits at the back of court today. Due to her lack of sleep, anxiety and being extremely convened and worried about the proceedings she decided to drive in order to be on time.
"We submit this was no flagrant disregard for the interim disqualification. She considered it necessary to ensure she appeared in court on time.
"Her decision to drive that day was an act of pure lunacy, compounded by the fact that following the sentence she had been told not to drive. However, she was still in shock from the court proceedings.
"She wishes to apologise to you and the public for this act. She is under no illusion about the dangers posed and understands the angry reaction from the Manchester public."
Featured Image Credit: Cavendish Press
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