A HUSBAND and wife who tried to cover up their involvement in the death of a teenager in a hit-and-run accident have been jailed.
Marilyn Aldridge, 55, hit and killed pedestrian Joanne Cottage as she drove her blue Ford Granada along Ness Road, Shoebury, on February 1 last year.
But despite knowing she had injured the 17-year-old Shoebury girl, who died in hospital the next day, she drove off and then picked up her husband Russell Aldridge from IMS, the steel company where he worked in nearby Vanguard Way.
Marilyn Aldridge, who had no insurance, contacted police the next day and claimed her car had been stolen in an attempt to avoid prosecution.
Russell Aldridge, 39, then tried to destroy the evidence by setting fire to the vehicle, which he had dumped in a car park, near Poynings Avenue and Whittingham Avenue, Southend.
Lighter fuel was later found on the back seats of the car and at the home he shared with his wife in Locksley Close, Southend.
A third defendant, Jenny Dickinson, 41, was charged after making a false statement to police in which she backed up Mrs Aldridge about the stolen Ford Granada.
At Basildon Crown Court, Judge Christopher Mitchell sentenced Marilyn Aldridge to nine months in prison and Russell Aldridge to seven months. Dickinson was given a four-month suspended sentence along with a three-month curfew from 7pm to 7am. All three had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.
Judge Mitchell told the three defendants: “These attempts to mislead the police by all three of you in circumstances where someone was lying injured at the side of the road and tragically dies are very serious matters. The background to this case is tragic. I am sentencing you Marilyn Aldridge on the basis you knew perfectly well you had hit her and she was lying at the side of the road.”
Samantha Leigh, counsel for the prosecution, said a police investigation had found the fatal crash had been an accident as there was a blind spot in the road which meant Marilyn Aldridge, would not have seen Miss Cottage until the last minute.
Mrs Leigh said police also found no defects with her car and said she had been driving at speeds of between 30 and 42mph along the 30 mph road.
She said when police went to Marilyn Aldridge’s home after she reported her car missing, she eventually broke down during questioning and confessed she had been driving at the time of the accident.
She claimed she had driven off because she had panicked, but continued to maintain the vehicle had been stolen.
Dickinson, a former neighbour, who now lives in Honiton Road, Southend, admitted perverting the course of justice. She said she had lied out of loyalty to Marilyn Aldridge, who was so frightened and knew Russell Aldridge, who didn’t even have a licence, was going to dispose of the car.
Marilyn Aldridge pleaded guilty to failing to stop at an accident, perverting the course of justice and no insurance at an earlier hearing. Russell Aldridge admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, driving without a licence and no insurance.