Illegal instructor given suspended sentence
Martin Bowyer was sentenced yesterday at Stoke Crown Court for duping learner drivers out of thousands of pounds by pretending to be an approved driving instructor.
Bowyer, 48 of Leek, Staffordshire, advertised his illegal services in his wife’s hairdressing shop, had a top box on his vehicle and dual controls inside his car. He misled unwitting candidates into believing he was a qualified driving instructor, one of whom was a close family friend.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Fraud & Integrity Team worked with the police to investigate Bowyer’s fraudulent activity which led to his arrest during ‘mid-lesson’ in May last year.
Bowyer pleaded guilty at Stoke Magistrates Court in December of six counts of fraud and one of driving without insurance. Today he asked for 19 similar offences to be taken into account.
Judge Paul Glenn sentenced Bowyer to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was also given an 18 month supervision order and a community sentence of 200 hours. In addition Bowyer was banned from driving for a year. A separate hearing in April will decide whether he must forfeit any assets.
The judge said “I take a serious view of these offences as they were pre-meditated. The offences involved a breach of trust.
“You put the people you were teaching at risk and other motorists at risk. Its plain you were not particularly brilliant at what you were doing. You knew what the legal requirements were and chose to ignore them. I believe these offences were probably the tip of the iceberg.”
Following the sentencing, DSA Head of Fraud & Integrity, Andrew Rice said: “Before an individual is allowed to register as an Approved Driving Instructor they are assessed by the Driving Standards Agency to ensure that they are “fit and proper” and that they have a high standard of driving and instructional ability. This includes criminal record bureau checks.
Mr Bowyer showed no consideration for the safety of his pupils, in spite of one being a close family friend”.
One of Bowyer’s victims, who had paid him in the region of £1000 for the illegal instruction stated: “If I had known he was not authorised when I started my lessons, I would never have embarked on driving lessons with him”.
DSA’s Driving Instructor Registrar, Charles Morton advises: “It is very simple to check that a driving instructor is qualified. Ensure they display an in-date pink or green licence in their windscreen during lessons and that the photo on the badge matches that of the person providing the instruction.
“The pink badge indicates that they have trainee status and are entitled to give paid instruction whilst acquiring practical experience.
“The green badge indicates that their name is in the Register of Approved Driving Instructors, they are fully qualified to give paid instruction and are subject to regular checks by DSA to ensure their continued competence and suitability to give instruction.”
If you have concerns that your driving instructor may be teaching you illegally, call the DSA Fraud & Integrity Team on 02920 581155 or email [email protected]