We have heard of people taking the rap for a friend or family member's speeding offence, but normally it is someone who is in the car at the time or at least someone who drives it from time to time. At the very least they are alive.

That was not the case for a 44-year-old businesswoman from Lancashire, who escaped a series of fines by claiming it was her dead mother behind the wheel when she got snapped breaking the speed limit.

The Volvo estate Helen Child was driving was still registered in her mother Lucinda's name when she was caught doing 38mph in a 30mph zone in 2006. Despite her mother having died at the age of 57 in 2002, Child forged her signature and the dead woman's licence was punished with the three points.

She did the same on a couple of other occasions, but was forced to admit to jumping a red light in her Audi S5 in September last year as her mother's licence had nine points – if she'd got any more and her mother would have had to attend a court hearing.

Child's scam was only exposed when she attempted to put another offence on her mother's licence after three had expired. The notifying letter was sent to her mother's old address and returned to the authorities with a note saying that Lucinda had died in 2002.

After the resulting investigation, Child was hit with a 15 month suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 80 hours of community service for perverting the course of justice. However she managed to escape the driving ban that she would have received had she taken all the points onto her licence.

After the hearing at Manchester Crown Court, Miss Child said yesterday: "I can only give a heartfelt apology for what I've done.

"I was stupid and naive, and I feel deeply ashamed of behaving in this way. I honestly don't know why I did it, and I can only emphasise how deeply, deeply sorry I am."