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Dudley man jailed for cutting insurance corners following crash
11:43am Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
A DUDLEY businessman cut corners and faked an insurance certificate for his drivers to save cash.
Stephen Rhoomes, aged 44, lied to police about who was involved in a crash and modified his real insurance certificate on his home computer in a bid to cover his tracks after one of his uninsured employees hit another car.
He was jailed for six months at Worcester Crown Court after admitting perverting the course of justice.
Michael Conry, prosecuting, told the court that one of the drivers working for Rhoomes' own company, Kumbula Chinyowa, crashed into another driver on October 23 last year while driving along Brockhill Lane in Redditch.
Mr Chinyowa told police he was automatically insured through his employment at the company, and when he appeared at court charged with driving without insurance, Rhoomes provided a certificate confirming this.
But when further enquiries were carried out by prosecutors, it turned out the copy was a fake - and that Rhoomes only had a total of six people, including himself, actually insured to drive, despite employing between 40 and 60 people.
Rhoomes' barrister, Wykeham Garsia, said his client had been struggling with fuel price increases and having to compete with other companies from overseas.
He was dedicated to his work, he added, and would work long hours to keep the company afloat.
Mr Garsia said: "He feels very heavily the burden of providing for his employees, as well as for his family. He is not supported by anyone else in the office. If he were to go to prison, the business would fold."
Rhoomes, of Manderston Close, Dudley, was also involved in the community, helping with projects such as Street Angels, Mr Garsia added.
However, Judge Michael Cullum said immediate custody was the only appropriate action in this case as he had told a string of "deliberate lies".
The judge told Rhoomes: "You are an exceptionally hard-working man, but you knew that you had put on the roads, as an employer, an uninsured driver.
"You could have obtained a policy allowing all employees to drive, but did not.
"There must have been an element of economy in choosing to do that.
"When your employee was caught, there having been an accident, you had the choice whether to be honest about it or whether to lie, and try to lie your way out of the situation and avoid responsibility.
"All of these were deliberate lies, this was not a momentary slip or error of judgement.
"You have many employees - they will not find work for a short period while you are in custody."