Man who broke driving ban was saved from jail after claiming he needed to help son with Bar Mitzvah

Matthew Winch has avoided jail (Facebook)

A financial adviser caught flouting a driving ban has been spared a prison sentence after he pleaded with a judge that he needs to be free to help his son prepare for his Bar Mitzvah.

Matthew Winch, 53, was using his mobile phone to read a text message while driving down Fulham Road, despite only having served half of a six-month driving ban.

When stopped by police, Winch, who also had no insurance on his wife’s Land Rover Discovery, said he had decided to take a trip to the Baths to get away from the stress of his life.

Winch’s solicitor, Sarah King, told Westminster Magistrates Court that Winch, a father of four, was under immense pressure after his business collapsed during the pandemic and plays a key role in his children’s lives. since he urged the judge not to do so. impose a prison sentence.

“Your 12-year-old son is at a very crucial age,” he said. “In November his Bar Mitzvah will take place.

“Mr. Winch, as a parent, has a responsibility to teach and guide his son through the process. If he were removed from the family, there is no other man to do that.

“The effect of not attending his son’s Bar Mitzvah would be catastrophic, in the words of Mr. Winch.”

District Judge Michael Snow imposed a six-week curfew between 8pm and 6am on Winch, banned him from driving for 15 months and ordered him to pay £1,400 in fines, as well as £549 in costs and fees. judicial.

“It is bad to drive in central London, where pedestrians, cyclists and scooter users are at risk, while he is distracted by his mobile phone,” he said.

“The reason for imposing penalties for driving while impaired is because of the risks to the community. The ordinary point of enunciation is an immediate custodial sentence.

“In determining that a prison sentence does not need to be imposed, I note that he has no prior convictions, the impact on his family and the stress he has been under recently.”

The court heard that Winch was pulled over by police at 3:40 p.m. on August 18 after he was seen on his mobile phone, and checks showed he had no insurance on the car and was banned from driving in May after amassing 12 points on your license. .

Prosecutor Tazkia Rahman said Winch accepted her crimes, telling officers, “Sorry, guilty, bad mistake.”

King said Winch relies heavily on her savings and had to pull her children out of private education after her central London property-rental business collapsed during the pandemic.

He still has a job as a financial adviser to start-ups, he added, but said he is struggling to attract clients in the “niche” sector.

“He was suffering at the time from the pressure of everything,” he said. “He built up and he made the decision to go swimming.

“The pressure he was under may explain why a man of such an exemplary position in the community, never having been before a court, decided to act in such a way.”

Winch, who lives in a £3.8m apartment in Marylebone, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and using a mobile phone while driving.

He will pay the court bill at a rate of £300 per month.

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