Quinton accountant stole to fund his girlfriend's luxury lifestyle, inquest hears (From Halesowen News)
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Quinton accountant stole to fund his girlfriend's luxury lifestyle, inquest hears
1:00pm Wednesday 8th August 2012 in Local
A QUINTON accountant found dead in his car after it left a country lane in flames had stolen up to £70,000 from his employer to fund his illegal immigrant girlfriend who was "bleeding him dry", a court heard.
Anthony Roden was discovered in his Rover 75 in a field off the B4188 Hackman’s Gate Lane between Belbroughton and Blakedown - just moments after his car had been seen hurtling down the road on fire.
An inquest at Stourport Coroner’s Court heard the 56-year-old divorced dad had taken £60,000 to £70,000 from his employer's accounts.
And at 9.40am on the morning of the fatal incident, on March 14, his boss and friend Timothy Boscher had sent him an ultimatum in an email demanding an explanation - or their 35-year friendship and Mr Roden's job would be terminated.
Later that morning, at around 11.30am, witness Anne Burton saw Mr Roden's car "being driven erratically" along the B4188 with plumes of smoke pouring from the back.
She noticed the driver sitting “motionless” in the vehicle and she told the court she heard a loud popping sound and saw the vehicle’s side windows bursting and bags flying out before the burning car careered down an embankment and through a hedge into a field.
Police and fire crews were called to the scene but Mr Roden, of Whitley Court Road, was pronounced dead.
A post mortem revealed he died of burns.
Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams said there were no signs of any pre-existing health condition or medical emergency and no drugs or alcohol were found in his system.
There were also no faults on the vehicle that could have caused a fire, he said.
Fire investigator - Kevin Williams, of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said a flammable material was probably ignited by a naked flame - resulting in an explosion which blew the windows out and sucked oxygen in causing a fire.
But he said "extensive damage to the car precluded any definitive explanation of exactly what happened".
He said lighters and aerosol cans were found in the car and sniffer dogs detected traces of a flammable liquid but there was "no evidence of what flammable material it was, in what container and how it became ignited".
Police officer DC Jake Wright said Mr Roden had been seeing a woman in Birmingham who had overstayed her visitor’s visa by more than 12 months.
The woman, Regina Stan, was living in an apartment in Holloway Circus and was also a named tenant on another high value city apartment.
DC Wright said the property was rented under Mr Roden’s name and six months worth of rent, totalling £6,000, had been paid for in advance in cash. But there was no evidence of Mr Roden having lived there or stayed there.
The detective said Stan, who had been living in the UK under a false name, had since been deported to Trinidad.
He said: "She was living a lifestyle far beyond her means; a lifestyle funded by unknown means. She had no bank accounts, no form of identification and she was living under various aliases.”
The coroner said: “Mr Roden had become infatuated or obesessed with this young woman and she set about bleeding him dry."
He said Mr Roden was "previously a man of good character, trusted and well-respected by his employer".
But his behaviour changed in November 2011 and Mr Boscher grew "increasingly concerned".
The coroner added: "It seems Mr Roden almost in a naive way began to steal from his employer to fund a lifestyle this woman required. It seems he benefited very little from that.
“There was no attempt to hide or manipulate the situation; he was simply taking his employer's money and on the date of his death he received an email ultimatum.”
But what happened next would remain a mystery.
The coroner continued: "What he then did we don’t know. Where he was going we don’t know. What happened in the car we don’t know.
"He had some flammable material in the vehicle, probably it was petrol, which became exposed to the air and vapour built up, a naked flame was brought into being in the car and that caused the consequences."
But he could not be certain the freelance accounting consultant had deliberately tried to bring about his own demise so he recorded an open verdict at the hearing yesterday (Tuesday August 7).