THE boss of one of Newcastle’s top restaurants has been hit with a fine after he admitted failing to stop after an accident and driving with no insurance.
Jamie Howell, owner of the Fisherman’s Lodge in Jesmond Dene, drove away after being involved in a collision that left an elderly man’s car written off.
The former City financier, who took over the restaurant in 2009, was not insured at the time of the accident and asked a member of his staff to call the police and claim they had been driving his car, Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard.
But during the fake confession, the staff member then changed his story and admitted his boss had in fact been behind the wheel.
The 52-year-old was due to stand trial yesterday after denying the charges, but at the last minute, after his defence team was given sight of his original statement to police, he changed his plea to guilty.
Julia Bell, prosecuting said: “Police went to the Fisherman’s Lodge and the defendant was spoken to and he accepted there and then that he didn’t have insurance. He also said that he had stopped at the garage further down the road after the accident.”
The court heard that at 12pm on May 23 last year, Howell’s Landrover Freelander collided with a Toyota Yaris at the roundabout at the junction of the A1 sliproad and Stamfordham Road, Newcastle. The elderly driver stopped his car, but when the Landrover left the scene and did not return, he called the police.
Andrew O’Hanlon, defending, said: “In the transcript of the original interview he full and frankly admitted it and he stands by those admissions today. He’s been stupid and he accepts that.”
He urged the magistrates not to ban his client from driving, saying: “Since this matter he has received a driving disqualification and this is the reason his restaurant has gone into administration twice.
“He has not been able to get to the restaurant and back on a daily basis and this has had an effect. If he is banned again it will again lead to financial ruin and people will lose their jobs.”
Sentencing for the two offences, magistrates ordered Howell, of Allerwash, Hexham, Northumberland, to pay a total sum of £1,305 and issued him with 10 penalty points. It is the latest controversy to hit the restaurant.
Speaking after the hearing, the restaurateur said: “I did stop after the accident further down the road and I had tried to take out insurance on the car that morning, but the person on the phone had not been able to take payment. I never asked someone else to say they had been driving.
“Last year was a terrible year, but we are just starting to sort it all out. I have a good young team and we all want to make this work.”