THE boss of Ambleside’s Hayes Garden World used his ‘power and influence’ to force a contractor to lie over the circumstances of a crash involving his luxury car, a court was told.

Thomas Hayes, 46, of Crook Road, Kendal, is alleged to have colluded with Derek Henderson, 58, of Woodbank Terrace, Endmoor, over who was driving when a Porsche Cayenne flipped in Burneside more than three years ago.

Both men deny perverting the course of justice.

Hayes admitted being in the car but denied being behind the wheel, saying it was being driven by Henderson, who was at his family farm installing a fence.

Company director Hayes was previously jailed for 18 weeks at Kendal Magistrates’ Court after being convicted of driving while nearly four times the legal limit.

An appeal of that sentence was later rejected.

Both men stand accused of lying to police and courts between November 2010 and July 25, 2012.

The incident occurred on November 21, 2010, when the car narrowly avoided an oncoming Vauxhall Astra on Hollins Road.

Brendan Burke, prosecuting the case at Carlisle Crown Court, said: “Hayes was a wealthy businessman. At the time of the crash Henderson was working for a company subcontracted to the garden centre.

“The prosecution say Hayes, fearing the consequences of prison or a ban, used his position of power and influence, whether that be with money or the threat of less work, to force Henderson to say he was driving.”

Mr Burke said Hayes made a number of admissions to police at the time.

However, on February 1, 2011, Henderson said in police interview he was driving.

Mr Terrence Willan told the court he was driving in the opposite direction to the Porsche, with his wife and granddaughter in the car, when he was confronted by the Porsche.

He said it took around 30 seconds to perform a three-point turn before reaching the car to check for casualties.

He said he saw a man scramble through the driver’s side window.

In police interview Henderson said he had got out of the car by opening the driver’s side door.

But Mr Burke said there was evidence to prove that the door because of the severe damage caused by the crash.

“How is it that a man, described as 19st and 6ft4, dazed by a serious crash, disappeared off the face of the earth in a matter of seconds,” Mr Burke asked the jury of eight men and four women.

Hayes said he asked Henderson to drive him to the Spar in Burneside for bread and milk, realising that he himself was still unfit after a heavy drinking session with friends the night before.

Questioned as to why the pair didn't make the five minute trip in Henderson's work van, the court heard that Hayes described it as 'dirty, full of mud, empty crisp packets and chocolate.'

Henderson, not used to driving an automatic car, crashed the vehicle and fled following an argument with Hayes, it was alleged.

The court was read transcripts from Hayes' appeal hearing. Asked why he left the scene instead of waiting for police, Henderson replied: "If I didn't do as I was told I do not think I would have got any more work because he's my boss."

The trial continues.