A private hire vehicle proprietor convicted of fraud for faking insurance documents in a bid to save £90,000 - but this left his fleet of around 18 cars uninsured.
Dad-of-one Jason Ellis took £150 a week per car from unsuspecting drivers who were using his leased vehicles – but they had no cover. Private hire driver Jason Ellis, 57, was spared jail at Portsmouth Crown Court after using fake insurance documents for a fleet of up to 18 taxis. Drivers paid him cash to use the cars not knowing they were uninsured.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Ellis altered a legitimate insurance document showing it three times in successive years to major operators, including Aqua Cars, and Portsmouth City Council. There was no wrongdoing by the firm or council, which detected the fraud.
Ellis, who now works at a golf club, was caught out after getting a caution for fraud from City of London Police in relation to a car accident. When officers referred it to Portsmouth’s licensing team as part of a probe into him being a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence the fraud was discovered.
Married Ellis, of Wykeham Road, North End, admitted four charges of fraud spanning 2017-2019.
Nickii Humphreys, licensing manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We work hard to prevent any fraudulent activity and are very glad our checks identified the issue with Mr Ellis' insurance.
‘We immediately revoked his licences and reported it to the police, we are pleased this led to a successful prosecution.
‘This case is a good example of the excellent investigative work undertaken by licensing authority officers and how we work together with other organisations to ensure the safety of our residents.’
Recorder Adam Feest QC imposed a two-year jail term suspended for two years with 200 hours’ unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity days.
Sentencing, the judge said: ‘The gravity of this offence is not financial gain to you but in fact that for just over two years you were exposing those who leased the cars from you, the drivers and any passengers which they carried, and of course members of the public in this city to the risk of being involved in road traffic accidents for which there was no insurance.’
He added: ‘I have no doubt had you not been caught you would have carried on submitting false documents.’
Ellis, who held his head in his hands during the hearing, saved £30,000 each year but was caught early on in the third year.
Robert Bryan, mitigating, said the fleet was reduced to 12 cars and the vehicles were leased by Ellis.