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Haringey councillor trial: Nilgun Canver burst into tears after lying to police

On trial: Cllr Nilgun Canver On trial: Cllr Nilgun Canver

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
3:03 PM

A senior councillor burst into tears after admitting she had lied to protect her son “like any mother would”, a court heard.

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"I don’t know what she would have said. I believe she might have been trying to tip him off, tell him that we might be trying to come to the house. I was quite frustrated that she was obstructing our investigation."

PC Steve Tutton

Cllr Nilgun Canver, a former Labour cabinet member for Haringey Council, broke down after an officer asked her several times whether she was behind the wheel of her silver BMW when it hit Stavros Oikonomou and careered into a lamppost late at night in Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham, on January 24 last year.

After initially telling PC Steve Tutton that she was driving with her son Burak in the passenger seat, Cllr Canver admitted she had not been there.

In fact Burak had been driving. He has since been prosecuted for aggravated vehicle taking and driving without insurance.

On the second day of her trial for attempting to pervert the course of justice at Wood Green Crown Court, PC Tutton gave his version of events.

The first of two officers to arrive at the scene at 1.05am, he said he first checked the BMW and saw the driver’s seat was pushed “right back” before being directed to Cllr Canver.

“The first thing I asked her was, was she the driver of the BMW,” said PC Tutton. “She said yes. She said she was diabetic and had had a funny turn or something. I asked her if she was in the car alone. She told me her son was with her, and he had gone home because he didn’t feel very well.”

A paramedic had told PC Tutton that Mr Oikonomou claimed the driver was a man, aged 25 to 30, who had already left the scene, and provided a description.

PC Tutton continued: “I thought, there is a little bit of doubt here. There could be an explanation, she could have pushed the seat out in order to get out of the vehicle. I said to her, ‘Are you telling me the truth about who was driving? Other people have said they saw a man.’ She just looked at me blankly, just stared at me without giving me an answer.”

He said he asked her several times, adding: “She started to cry and said, ‘I am just trying to protect my son like any mother would.’”

Cllr Canver told the PC her son may have left because he was “intoxicated”, but didn’t answer when asked where he was. She picked up her mobile phone and said she was going to call him, but the PC grabbed it from her.

“I don’t know what she would have said,” said PC Tutton. “I believe she might have been trying to tip him off, tell him that we might be trying to come to the house. I was quite frustrated that she was obstructing our investigation.”

Cllr Canver’s counsel later suggested she was being co-operative and “helpful” by trying to call her son, and made the point that she must also have provided his name and address to officers who were sent to arrest him.

PC Tutton added: “She kept mentioning that she worked with us all the time and I said, what do you mean by that? And she said she was a local councillor.”

He sought advice from two superior officers before cautioning her at the scene, warning her that offences may have been committed and asking her to make a statement. Cllr Canver said: “Is it necessary? What happens if I don’t?” She then asked if it was “really in the public interest”.

Cllr Canver was allowed to leave the scene, but was called back at around 3am to give a statement once officers realised Burak was not insured to drive the car - meaning that either he had committed an offence by taking the BMW without consent, or she had by letting him drive it.

She made a statement that she could not recall giving her son permission to drive her car.

Cllr Canver denies a single count of attempting to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues.

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