A WOMAN accused of “protecting” a hit-and-run driver has been cleared by a jury.

Hannah Nicholson was said to have misled police officers investigating the collision in Saltney which left 10-year-old Alfie Watts with life-changing injuries.

Police claimed Ms Nicholson, 28, did not point the finger at her friend Keegan Doyle who was driving her silver Ford Fiesta at speed when he hit the schoolboy on Park Avenue on January 6.

Doyle, 23, of Warren Drive, Broughton was jailed for three years and eight months in March after admitting causing serious injury by dangerous driving and arson.

After making off he attempted to set the vehicle ablaze, but police recovered it from a nearby field and went to Ms Nicholson’s home in Saltney as she was the registered keeper and owner.

Officers claimed she was far from frank with them and went out of her way to distance herself from Doyle.

She said she had only noticed her car was missing later in the day and did not name Doyle as a potential suspect.

But a jury at Mold Crown Court took less than an hour to find her not guilty of a charge of doing acts to pervert the course of justice.

Doyle spent the night at her home and had previously used her vehicle. Her father, Kevin Nicholson, had told her not to let anyone drive her car after he found Doyle’s work clothes and tools in the boot when he was carrying out repairs.

Ms Nicholson told the court she did tell Doyle not to take her car and thought he would respect her wishes as he was a friend.

She denied trying to protect him or “putting the police on the wrong track” and said he had mentioned it was a possibility that he had stolen the vehicle when the officers called around after Alfie Watts was hit by the car.

She said: “I was worried about getting the blame for something that was absolutely disgusting. I would never have done what he had done.”

Ms Nicholson, of Henry Wood Court, Saltney pleaded not guilty to doing acts to pervert the course of justice on January 6 this year.

She said Doyle had left her house by the time she woke up at 10.30am.

But a neighbour spotted a man she thought was "Nicholson’s boyfriend" on her driveway hours before the youngster was hit by the Ford Fiesta.

Prosecuting barrister Myles Wilson alleged: “She would have known full well or suspected that it was her boyfriend that had been driving her car.”

Nicholson was initially arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and perverting the course of justice.

She said that Doyle was not her boyfriend and they had a platonic relationship.

*Alfie Watts suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, and spent a week in a coma at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. He is now on the road to recovery back at home in Saltney and has been able to make a return to school.