A fraudster registered his van in a "dead man’s name" in a bid to avoid paying parking fines totalling £15,000 ended up in court after it transpired that the man was very much alive.
Locksmith Rio Beardmore got into James Sharman's flat and stole his identity to try to avoid the parking penalties.
But Beardmore's audacious scam came to an end when it transpired that Mr Sharman was still alive and receiving bailiff demands, StokeonTrentLive reports.
Now the dad-of-one has left Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court with a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
The 50-year-old – who admitted fraud and driving without insurance – picked up parking tickets in London, Nottingham, and Stoke-on-Trent.
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Prosecutor Emma Rutherford said: “On February 18, 2020, he committed fraud by registering a van in the name of James Sharman. He did this to avoid paying parking fines. On February 25 he drove to London in that van. He received a fine and then parked at Heston West service station and did not pay for the parking. Both these fines were sent to Mr Sharman.
"On June 25, 2020, he drove to Nottingham and parked illegally. The council issued a parking ticket. On July 2, 2020, he went to Nottingham and parked in a disabled bay in Victoria Street and for this, he was fined £105."
She went on: "On August 3, 2020, he again went to Nottingham and was fined £70 for the incorrect use of the bus gate. On August 24, 2020, he parked in Lichfield Street, in Stoke-on-Trent, and a fine was issued."
The fines were sent to Mr Sharman’s address.
Ms Rutherford explained: "Mr Sharman was unaware of these fines. His step-father went to visit him and there was a large amount of post for him. He had received the parking fines which he had no knowledge of. Some letters were bailiff letters. Mr Sharman contacted the police.
"Mr Beardmore did not deny that he was responsible for the fines. He said he would sort it out. Mr Sharman took a day off work to resolve this matter."
Beardmore, of Lansdowne Road, Hartshill, was interviewed at Hanley Police Station last October.
Ms Rutherford added: "He admitted registering the van in Mr Sharman’s name."
Mr Sharman has labelled the whole experience "very traumatic". In a statement, he said: "It’s strained my relationship with my children. I have lost my stable family life. I’m still being chased by bailiffs."
Beardmore has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis.
Peter McCartney, mitigating, said: "He is a man who can stay out of trouble despite the upbringing he had.
"He is remorseful. He has a young son and is trying to get his business back up on its feet. His 10-year-old son, partner, and business will be affected by him going to prison."
The suspended sentence includes 100-hours of unpaid work, a 30-day rehabilitation order, a compensation order, and eight points on his licence.
Judge David Fletcher said: "You describe yourself as a locksmith. You gained access to Mr Sharman’s flat and stole his identity to register your vehicle in an obvious way to avoid fines.
"This is a man who drove that van and parked it wherever he wanted. There was significant planning."
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