‘Sorry, you can’t ban me from driving. I’m dead.’

A motorist who tried to fake her own death to avoid driving convictions has been given eight months prison.

Zoe Bernard, 38, told police she was dead by pretending to be her sister.

Her barrister explained today she was planning to commit suicide – and had asked for her death certificate in advance.

Gregor McKinley, prosecuting, said: ‘The beginnings of the case go back to November 2020 when Ms Bernard was arrested by police in Kilburn.

‘She had been driving a BMW carelessly and failed to stop.

She was arrested and at the time she gave details to the police as Kyesha Bernard and she was released under that name pending further investigation.

‘The investigating officer then wrote to Ms Bernard requesting her to attend the police station for a interview and he says he was contacted on a number of occasions between November 15, 2020 and January 7, 2021 by someone calling themselves Shanice Bernard and claiming to be Zoe’s Bernard’s sister.

‘They established who she was through her driving records and wrote to her as Zoe Bernard.

‘They received phone calls from someone claiming to be Shanice Bernard saying that Zoe had been ill and that she was dead.

‘At that time there was a statement from a Ms Salami who works at the registration office of Westminster Council.

‘On January 25, 2021 there was an online request asking for a death certificate for Zoe Bernard by someone called Shanice.

‘It is our case that it was this defendant who was contacting the police station pretending to be her sister and making the request for the death certificate.’

The certificate was not issued because there had been no registered death of a Zoe Bernard, the court heard.

Bernard had initially denied perverting the course of justice but later pleaded guilty.

Last year Bernard was found guilty of four driving offences relating to November 2020: driving without insurance, failing to stop, driving while disqualified and careless driving, for which she received a six-month curfew and a 12-month ban.

Margo Munro Kerr, appearing by video link after testing positive for Covid-19, said Bernard had told her that she had lost both her uncle and her daughter in the Grenfell fire.

‘There is no reference to that in the psychological report,’ said Judge Martin Beddoe.

‘You told me before that her child had died in a car accident.’

‘I should not have spoken before taking full instructions,’ said Ms Munro Kerr.

She added that Bernard was a survivor of sexual violence from a police officer and was suffering from sickle cell disease, so any prison time would be extremely traumatic for her.

Bernard had requested the death certificate is because she was feeling suicidal and was making preparations, Ms Munro Kerr suggested.

‘This is a case where so many things have conspired to make it exceptional,’ said Ms Munro.

‘A custodial sentence would have such a harmful impact on her that it would not be justified.

‘This is such a strange way to act, it was also obvious that the police would find out it was a lie.’

‘How can you say that?’ Judge Beddoe replied.

‘Had she managed to get hold of the death certificate the police might have thought it was genuine.’

Bernard, of Sutton Way, west London, buried her head in her arms as she received her eight-month sentence.

Judge Beddoe told her: ‘You are someone that has very little respect for the operation for the law.

‘I do not accept that this was as a result of any suicidal tendencies. This offence was clearly the result of some degree of planning by you.

‘From what I have read it is clear that you exaggerate events in your life in order to suit your interests.

‘Neither the psychiatric report nor the letter shown to me today has convinced me that justice should not take its proper course.

‘You have disregard for the law and you need to learn to do so.’