By Barry Mason
9 May 2017
A verdict of suicide was recently recorded at the inquest of a young worker, Jerome Rogers, who had been plagued by debt following two parking fines.
At the inquest in south London, assistant coroner Jacqueline Devonish said, “It’s evident that he [Rogers] was stressed by being in debt.”
Jerome Rogers was only 20 when he tragically took his own life, by hanging, in March last year. He had earned his living as a self-employed courier for City Sprint, using his motorbike to deliver blood supplies to hospitals throughout London.
Rogers had incurred two parking fines for £65, which had been owed to Labour Party-run Camden council. Because the fines were not paid, the debt quickly mounted up in the course of a few months. Eventually he owed a total of £1,019 because of non-payment of penalties and bailiffs fees.
Camden council passed the debt to Newlyn Plc; a Liverpool based national debt Collection Company used by many local authorities and high street firms. Public concerns about the methods used by the company and others like them are well documented.
A Times article in February, 2011 stated that Newlyn “has been accused of adding extra costs to debts, cutting corners and aggressively chasing people for money they say they do not owe.
It cited a former employee, who revealed the “questionable practices of a company chasing unpaid fines and arrears for local authorities.” The Times wrote, “Steve Williams (not his real name), an ex-employee of Newlyn, says that when an unpaid parking debt is passed to Newlyn, it will add an extra sum–often about £80.”
In 2016, Jerome was twice visited by Newlyn Plc bailiffs–firstly on January 19 and again on March 7. On the first visit, the partner of Jerome’s mother, Bentley Duncan, paid off £507. Jerome also agreed to pay the bailiff off at a rate of £128 a week—which would have constituted an enormous chunk of his wages. Jerome had suffered several bouts of severe asthma over the winter months making him unfit to work on several occasions. This meant that in the months prior to his death his weekly earnings were between just £38 and £89.