Church minister jailed after speeding fraud

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A MINISTER has been sent to jail after he lied about driving his car when he went through two speed traps.

Joao Mafuta, aged 42, a minister with the Congolese congregation in Rotherham, was ‘clocked’ travelling at 36mph in a 30mph zone by a speed camera and later the same day doing 49mph in a 40mph zone, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

When notices were issued to him as the registered keeper of the car, he claimed he was in the United States on the first occasion and was resident in France at the time of the second incident.

Investigations began into the November 2010 offences and Mafuta was arrested in March last year. He admitted providing false details and was due to be summonsed to court for speeding when a reviewing lawyer decided it was a more serious case.

Mafuta, of Hatherley Road, Eastwood, Rotherham, eventually admitted two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Dermot Hughes, defending, produced 100 glowing references in court from his family, friends and members of his congregation asking for the court’s mercy.

He said he was of ‘very high standing’ in his community and dedicated to its well-being.

“He is thoroughly ashamed of himself,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes added when Mafuta realised the seriousness of the charges, he immediately pleaded guilty. He said he was engaged on affairs for the Congolese community when the incidents happened.

Pleading for leniency Mr Hughes said: “Jailing him would separate him from his family and the consequences would be catastrophic. He is fundamentally a decent man.”

But Judge Michael Murphy jailed Mafuta for two months.

He told him: “The kind of offences you have committed are all too prevalent and all too easy for people to commit. Word has to go out that anyone thinking of committing an act intending to pervert the course of justice will receive punishment whoever they are.

“This undermines the system and therefore I have to say it is my duty to impose an immediate sentence of custody but I will keep the sentence to a minimum.”