Yes, it gives me truly immense pleasure to report that the TEFL charlatan and parasite known as Paul Lowe, a.k.a. 'The Windsor Swindler', has been given his just desserts at a court in Reading. In fact, I'm almost speechless with uncontainable joy, knowing that the cheating bastard has finally gotten himself nailed, so I'll detain you no further and leave you with the facts below!
College Owner Learns a Lesson
(from official press release)
The owner of a Windsor adult education college has been given a 40 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and along with the General Manager of the college a combined total of 450 hours community work, ordered to pay a total of £5,000 prosecution costs and £900 compensation related to making false statements about the courses offered.
Paul Lowe, owner of Windsor Schools in Osborne Road , was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Friday 8 May for 15 offences under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and Fraud Act 2006 to which he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in August 2008.
The school’s general manager, Ashley Arnold, was sentenced for five offences under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 following guilty pleas at an earlier hearing in March 2009.
All the offences relate to making false claims about a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher training course. The men claimed their college was validated by Trinity College London, a recognised and respected provider of TEFL courses.
The court heard how students signed up to courses after seeing glossy brochures and a slick website, meeting for pre-course interviews and sitting entrance exams, only to discover once they were on the course that it was a sham as official validation had already been taken away.
The prosecution was brought by Royal Borough trading standards service following a lengthy and involved investigation into Windsor Schools’ trading practices, with a total of 17 statements being taken from students, former tutors and representatives of Trinity College London.
The students’ suspicions were first alerted when their tutors began raising concerns about the value of the qualifications, at which point they involved trading standards. Trading Standards began investigating in January 2007, after beginning to receive complaints which eventually totalled 16 individual complaints. This is the third Crown court hearing for this case on top of three earlier Magistrates Court hearings.
Cllr Phil Bicknell, lead member for public protection, said: “The Royal Borough does not take formal action like this lightly. However, where businesses fail to have regard for trading laws and deliberately or recklessly mislead the public we will have no hesitation in prosecuting them.”
Steve Johnson, trading standards manager, added: “This has been a long, complicated and thorough investigation and credit should go to the officers involved. I hope this will be a warning to other institutions offering qualifications, diplomas and degrees – they must not make claims about their businesses or the courses which are untrue or misleading.“
Mr Lowe was given a 40 week prison custodial sentence that is suspended for 18 months and ordered to undertake 200 hours of community work, to pay £450 compensation to one of the consumers still left out of pocket, and £3000 of prosecution costs. Mr Arnold was sentenced to 250 hours community work, to pay £450 compensation to the consumer and £2000 prosecution costs.
In mitigation, and asking for a non custodial sentence, Mr Lowe's barrister claimed that his client suffers from a heart condition, depression, and has been diagnosed with depersonalization since he was 22. It is unclear as to whether the barrister was referring to depersonalization disorder, which is an accepted psychiatric diagnosis.
In summing up His Honour Judge Reddihough said “Students put their trust in each of you. You both knew the Trinity accreditation was of importance to students. You took their money knowing the accreditation was not available to them. This was a breach of trust in respect of those various students.”
After delivering the sentencing he went on to say ”I hope you have both learnt your lesson not to do anything dishonest or stupid like this again”.