A FATHER who was caught promising to “sort out” witnesses who were due to give evidence in court against his son has been spared jail.
Steven Corner plotted with his son Joe, who was on remand in Durham Prison over a metal-bar attack which left a 20-year-old man with a fractured skull, to pervert the course of justice.
The plan was uncovered during taped telephone conversations from the prison.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 18-year-old son was caught pleading with his mother, Andrea Coutts, and his father during telephone calls he made to his home, to pay off witnesses and get them “put away somewhere” to stop them from giving evidence against him.
During a series of calls, Coutts was recorded promising “your dad is going to sort it” and telling her son “take your mam and dad’s word”.
During further calls, Corner senior was heard promising “I’m sorting it”.
After one court hearing, Corner told a member of court staff: “I want another barrister. I want the case adjourned, my dad is going to sort out the witnesses.”
The court heard two witnesses in the case did become reluctant to give evidence and one actually changed their statement, but there is no proof either of them were approached or threatened in any way.
Corner jnr was eventually jailed for a total of three years and five months for the violent attack, which happened at Marigold Walk in South Shields, last March, as well as perverting the course of justice and an unrelated violent attack.
Coutts, 38, was given a suspended prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.
At the same court yesterday, Corner snr, 40, who lives with the family in Bunyan Avenue, South Shields, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
He was also to undertake 100 hours’ unpaid work and pay £1,000 in costs.
He had also admitted perverting the course of justice.
Mr Recorder Steven Coupland told him: “The courts have to regard these offences seriously, because if the courts tolerated this type of behaviour, approaching or threatening witnesses not to come to court, the whole system of justice would fall into disrepair.”
The judge said he had sympathy for the devoted father in being put into the position he was, due to calls being made by a loved one who was distressed and in prison.
John Wilkinson, defending, said Corner snr never actually approached any witness.
Mr Wilkinson added: “He wants to get on with his life, working hard and looking after his family.”