'I was wrongly punished for dropping off food to a struggling family'

-Credit: (Image: The Personal Chef/Chloemariefilms)
-Credit: (Image: The Personal Chef/Chloemariefilms)

A Michelin trained chef from Sheffield who found himself in hot water with police has had his conviction overturned.

Robert Robinson, from the Foxhill area of the city, was convicted of a motoring offence after dropping off free meals to his struggling friends during the coronavirus lockdown.

An appeal at Sheffield Crown Court on April 26 heard how Robert was wrongly charged with using a motor vehicle without the correct insurance in 2021.

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Robert, 39, is the Michelin-trained chef behind Sheffield business The Personal Chef. During lockdown, he used his culinary skills to produce a "Feed a Family of Five for £5" on his YouTube channel and drop-off ready-made meals to help those in need.

On January 27, 2021, Robert was stopped by police as he drove along Infirmary Road in Sheffield on his way to drop-off free food to a family who was struggling to afford to eat.

“The officer accused me of driving without the relevant business insurance for my car - despite me not being a delivery driver and just dropping off food to a family I was helping at the time. They had five children and were in an abusive relationship,” Robert explained.

“My car was fully comprehensively insured. No one was paying me for dropping-off the food - I was just trying to help someone out.”

He spent almost three years fighting the conviction, which he said cost him between £21,000 and £28,000. He was also handed six points on his licence which saw his insurance premium skyrocket.

He continued: “I wasn’t able to run my business properly due to the sheer cost of insurance. A quote for annual cover went up to between £7,000 and £8,000 so I was only able to afford to insure my car with temporary insurance for three days per week.

“I’m nearly 40 years old, yet I was getting quotes as if I’m a 17-year-old that’s just passed their driving test.”

Robert said that the conviction impacted almost every aspect of his life. He explained: “It’s impacted my life negatively whether that’s work, getting the kids to school, getting to my hospital appointments - all from trying to do a good deed.

“It’s completely destroyed my day to day movements and my family’s movements and my business.”

Robert was also involved in a car crash in March 2023, which resulted in him breaking his scaphoid, and so he became very limited in the work he was able to do - something which was made even more difficult by not being able to freely use his car. He said: “I can’t really afford to do anything. I certainly can’t afford to offer free meals to people as I did before.”

At Sheffield Crown Court on April 26, 2024, Robert had the motoring conviction overturned. He told Yorkshire Live that he feels “as if a massive weight has been lifted off his shoulders”.

He said: “I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and I can actually take my kids to school every day and get them to where they need to be without having to try and find £30 to insure my car for the day.”

After successfully overturning the conviction the Michelin-trained chef is looking to get back to helping those in need. Robert, who has previously experienced homelessness and struggled to afford food himself, says he is now in the early stages of setting up his own food charity in order to help continue his good work and give away free meals to homeless people across the city.

He added: “Now that I’ve got clarification that what I was doing wasn’t illegal in the first place, I want to continue helping people. The conviction put a stop to that when there’s a lot of people that I could have helped.”

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