Boston taxi boss stole Covid funding loan from company he worked for

A Boston taxi firm manager who stole his company’s Covid bounce back loan has been jailed for 32 months.

Man jailed for stealing from taxi firm

The money was part of a total of £140,000 James Lloyd stole from the firm to fund a gambling habit which had spiralled out of control.

Lloyd, 39, successfully applied for the loan on behalf of the firm and within days of the money arriving in the company bank account he transferred it into a personal account.

Lloyd turned to online gambling at the start of lockdown to boost his family income as at the time he was off work after contracting a lung disease and his wife’s hairdressing salon was closed because of the Covid restrictions, Lincoln Crown Court heard.

He was trusted by the owners of Boston’s Angels Taxis, and was a signatory on the company bank account and was given company bank accounts.

Lucy Jones, prosecuting, said Lloyd was a friend of Julian and Toni Vines, who owned the company, and was trusted to manage the taxi firm.

She said “It gave him the opportunity to access the company’s funds and fund his addiction to gambling.

“From December 2018 up until the police became involved in August 2020 the defendant spent over £208,000 on gambling websites.

“On 19 May last year a £50,000 Government bounce back loan was paid into the company’s account. Following that the defendant transferred £68,000 into his personal bank account. In effect the bounce back loan went straight into his own account.”

The thefts came to light in the summer of last year after Toni Vines loaned Lloyd £5,000 to purchase a car. The money wasn’t repaid and when Mrs Vines checked the company bank account, she discovered thousands of pounds had been transferred into Lloyd’s account.

Miss Jones said “Mr Vines called the defendant. He believed there would be an innocent explanation.

“The defendant told him he would be round in the next half hour. Instead, he went to Boston Police Station and admitted to stealing more than £100,000 from his employer.”

Mr Vines subsequently discovered bills had not been paid and a number of company cars had been repossessed.

Julian Vines, in a victim impact statement, said he and his wife have been left in dire financial circumstances as a result of Lloyd stealing from their firm.

He said “Because of what James has done I have very poor credit ratings. It has been absolute carnage trying to pay back the debt James Lloyd has left us.

“I have bailiffs knocking on the door and debt collectors calling us. I’ll be paying this back for years.

“He was a man we trusted. I never doubted him. It’s like hell on earth.”

Lloyd, of Granville Street, admitted theft of £141,045 from his employer. He was jailed for two years and eight months.

Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told him “The effect of your behaviour has been devastating. They [Mr and Mrs Vines] have really suffered financially as a result.

“This is aggravated by the fact that you used Government money designed to get this company back on its feet in the grip of the pandemic.

“This country was in the grip of an emergency. A health and economic crisis. The Government provided these loans to assist companies in their fight to survive. In effect you took the Covid loan for yourself.

“Plainly this is so serious that only a sentence of immediate custody can be passed.”

Alex Upton, in mitigation, said Lloyd has since shown remorse and has sought help for his gambling addiction.

“This is a man who had previously never been before these courts.

“He found himself in a difficult position where he was unable to work through illness. Then came the lockdown and his wife was not able to open her salon.

“He wasn’t able to stop his gambling and it spiralled out of control.

“He has handed over a boat. It is not anywhere near the total that was taken but is the only asset of value he had.”