A YOUNG Workington mum who forged a doctor's letter in a failed bid to overturn a criminal conviction has narrowly escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Sarah Messenger, 33, wept as a Carlisle Crown Court judge accused her of shedding crocodile tears following her admission that she tried to pervert the course of justice by submitting the fake letter to the court to help her win an appeal.

Brenda Burke, prosecuting, said the offence had its roots in a minor road traffic accident.

Messenger, a Sellafield worker from Vulcans Lane, Workington, had reversed her car into another vehicle.

When speaking to the other driver, she Messenger claimed that she was a police officer, said Mr Burke.

She was later prosecuted for careless driving and impersonating a police officer.

When she was attempting to overturn her conviction in an appeal to the Crown Court, she submitted a letter, in which a GP supported her, and confirmed that the incident that led to her prosecution and the behaviour of the other people involved had left her shaken up.

"Court staff were alerted by the style of the letter, and the standard of the English," said Mr Burke.

"The surgery was contacted and staff there said they knew nothing about it. The GP who was supposedly the author of the this document also knew nothing about it either."

This turn of events led to Messenger panicking, and asking for the letter to be returned.

When this was refused, she claimed somebody from the GP practice had written the letter.

She suggested a number of possible candidates, said the barrister.

The defendant eventually admitted she forged the letter by entering her guilty plea.

Messenger's barrister Colette Renton said she was the primary carer for three her children.

She had expressed "disgust" with her own actions, said the barrister.

Judge Peter Davies told Messenger: "When this was investigated by the police, you sought to put the blame other members of that GP practice. They were questioned, but they had done nothing. They were concerned; they were worried, that further steps may be taken against them."

The judge said Messenger had held a gun to the head of the GP practice manager; to the head of the doctor; to court staff; and also to him.

He told the defendant: "You are fundamentally dishonest; you are a fundamentally unattractive person. It's going to be a punitive sentence, but it won't be immediate custody. If you come before the court again, there will be one. You care nothing about anybody but yourself.

"You are crying now, but they are crocodile tears."

The judge imposed a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Messenger must do 140 hours of unpaid work in the community, and observe a six month 7pm to 7am curfew.