A lawyer who owns a North Wales hotel has been jailed after he was convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Defendant John Washington, 36, owner of the Fiorenzo Cazari Hotel in Rhyl’s East Parade, had denied the charge but was convicted by a jury at Mold Crown Court.

The jury heard how he called a member of staff into his office and asked her to take a woman out for a drink and try and persuade her to drop charges of a sexual nature against his brother.

She in fact made a recording of the conversation using her mobile phone hidden in her bra – although it was not clear.

The court heard that his actions did not in fact pervert the course of justice because the prosecution had decided not to proceed with the case.

Judge Niclas Parry jailed the father of four for eight months and described it as a very serious matter.

“It strikes at the very heart of our system of justice,” he explained.

A very serious criminal offence had been alleged and it was in the early stages of investigation.

“You sought to influence the main witness, the complainant, by using a person over whom you had influence, a person whose job depended on you.”

The judge said that he had put pressure on her.

Judge Parry said that Washington could not be given any credit for any remorse or any admission of wrong doing on his behalf.

He had no previous convictions and the judge said that he accepted that he had acted entirely out of character.

The defendant had led a hard-working and industrious life and as it happened,  justice was not affected by his actions.

Prosecuting barrister Simon Rogers said that the victim told how her confidence had been affected and she had been put under a great deal of stress and pressure.

The jury was told that the offence took place in June of last year.

A member of staff at The Fiorenzo Cazari Hotel, formerly The Morville, had been called into the office and asked to take the complainant out for a drink and to try and get her to drop the charges.

Washington denied the claim.

The woman had made a recording of the conversation using a mobile phone hidden in her bra but it was not very clear, the jury was told.

Defending barrister Ashitey Ollennu told how the defendant was a married man with four children aged between two and six.

He came from Afghanistan as a refugee, was granted asylum and was now a British citizen who had lived in the UK for 20 years.

His client was an industrious man who had done taxi work and at the same time studied for a law degree and became a lawyer.

He was also a businessman who had a Subway franchise and he had purchased the hotel in Rhyl and worked to make it profitable and to provide local jobs.

Mr Ollennu stressed that his client’s actions had not actually perverted the course of justice.

The prosecution had not proceeded with the case against his client’s brother because they took the view there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

It was accepted that as a qualified solicitor he should have known better.

“He is not a villain,” said Mr Ollennu.

“This is a one off serious mistake, a stupid act.”