‘Filling in the gaps’: Woman’s excuse for crashed Mercedes lands her in court

A rural bar manager who crashed her Mercedes after drinking wine came up with a novel way of trying to conceal her crime.

Sarah Jane Davies, 58, walked from the site of her accident on State Highway 87 to her home in Hyde then called police the next day to report the vehicle as stolen.

What followed over the ensuing weeks was an assortment of lies and a story which gradually disintegrated.

On the eve of her Dunedin District Court trial, Davies pleaded guilty to careless driving, dishonestly using a document and making a false allegation to police.

The truth was revealed through court documents.

At 9pm on July 25 last year, Davies arrived at her friend’s house in Middlemarch where they shared a bottle of wine.

A couple of hours later she began the 20-minute journey home.

However, during the drive the defendant left the road, crashed through a fence and her badly damaged Mercedes came to a rest at the bottom of a gully on farmland.

Police found the vehicle abandoned with the keys in the ignition.

The mystery appeared to have been all but solved 12 hours later when Davies contacted them to report her guest accommodation had been burgled and her vehicle taken.

Only days later, she made a claim with her insurance company, repeating the falsities.

The claim was approved and Davies was due to receive an $18,000 payout before she later withdrew the insurance claim.

On July 31, she was interviewed by police.

She had driven to her holiday accommodation that evening and driven another vehicle home, she said.

Davies signed the statement, confirming its accuracy.

Follow-up inquiries by police, however, revealed some gaping holes in the defendant’s story.

During interviews in August, Davies maintained she had left the Mercedes at the guest house but admitted drinking wine with a friend that night.

When asked the next day about how she got home, she was unable to provide an explanation.

“The defendant stated she could not remember leaving her friend’s house and next thing she remembered she woke up at home on the couch fully clothed,” a summary said.

Did she crash the car?

“I can’t remember,” Davies said.

“I just don’t know what has gone on and was filling in the gaps.”

Judge David Robinson was unimpressed by Davies’ recent claims that she had no intent to defraud anyone and he believed she had downplayed the amount of alcohol she had consumed that night.

Counsel Nathan Laws stressed the crimes were not premeditated.

“It was an unfortunate series of events that occurred over a particularly stressful period,” he said.

Davies was sentenced to three months’ community detention and 200 hours’ community work.

She was banned from driving for three months and ordered to pay $770 for the damaged fence.

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