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Driving instructor could face jail for fraud 

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By Graham West

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Tina Cloke

A New Romney based driving instructor charged for lessons when she was not qualified to do so, Maidstone a court heard last week.The court heard how Miss Coke had failed to gain the necessary qualifications to enable her to give the lessons

With one learner handed over a total of £2,000 to 47-year-old Tina Cloke who was reported to have “quite a high failure rate”.Cloke, , admitted six fraud charges, involving £3,740, shortly before she was about to stand trial.

The mother-of-four denied a further charge of participating in a fraudulent business and it will be left on the court file.

Prosecutor Catharine Donnelly said: “Miss Cloke made herself out to be a qualified driving instructor entitled to charge money for driving lessons when, in fact, she was not qualified because she failed to meet the required standard.” Cloke had only a “trainee licence” which had expired.She first applied to be an approved instructor in October 2011 but failed various sections of the three-part test. However she successfully retook some parts.

Miss Donnelly said Cloke failed it three times in January, March and September 2013, which meant she had to start the whole process again.

She re-sat part one and passed it at the third attempt. She passed part two in July 2014.

“Thereafter, she did not submit any further application for a trainee licence and it was not issued,” said Miss Donnelly.“But she was taking young people out giving them driving lessons when she was not authorised to do so. Some gained valid licences, some didn’t. The gravity of this offence was that she was charging money. If you hold yourself out as a driving instructor and charge money, there is a presumption you know what you are doing. Parents of the young need to know they are safe. That is paramount. It is a breach of trust. They thought they were employing somebody who was qualified.”

Miss Donnelly said Cloke had one previous conviction for battery and was given a conditional discharge in February 2015.

Eve George, defending, told Judge Martin Joy: “She is absolutely terrified. This matter goes back a number of years.”

Miss George submitted a suspended sentence could be imposed.

But adjourning for a report until the week beginning June 5, the judge said: “A prison sentence is within the guidelines.”