Bogus driving instructor jailed

A bogus driving instructor who made thousands of pounds from unsuspecting learners was jailed for four months today for running an “uninsured and dangerous” scam.

Paul Berry, 44, had failed to qualify as an approved driving instructor but instead of retraining he decided to “masquerade” as a professional and went out on the road with learner drivers, some of whom went on to pass their test.

He admitted seven counts of fraud when he appeared before Leeds Crown Court today.

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Prosecuting, Richard Clews, said Berry had claimed he was an approved driving instructor and had given lessons with a number of learners and had received payment from the instruction between September 2007 and October 2010.

MClews said the prosecution case was that Berry made £9,250 from his fraudulent activities, although the defendant only accepts a sum of £6,500.

The court was told Berry, of Jilling Ing Park, Dewsbury, had passed the first two parts of his instructor exams, but failed the third and final part and did not retake the test.

Judge Kerry Macgill said custody was his only option as he sentenced him to four months in jail.

He said: “You had taken these students on and some of them passed. It could be said in one sense you were a capable instructor. You put yourself forward as a qualified instructor in a scheme that really has to be trusted by the public. People who send their children, or indeed anyone else to learn to drive, need to have the confidence that the person getting in the car is qualified.”

He said his fraud was “calculated and repeated” and this kind of offence “strikes at the very heart of what we have in this country” which requires regulation and confidence in a system once it has been set up.

Simon Osther, defending, said his client was “sorry and ashamed” of what he had done but he was motivated by trying to provide for his family. The court was told he was in poor health and in “dire financial straits”.