In a case which represents a major toughening of the judicial approach to ‘crash for cash’ frauds, a businessman who invented a sham road shunt in an attempt to win more than £130,000 in damages has received a 12-month jail term for his contempt of court.
The man claimed that his Audi had been involved in a fender-bender with a BMW. He sought compensation for alleged injuries and the cost of hiring a replacement car. However, his case was ‘wholly fraudulent’ and was discontinued before it reached court. He was ordered to pay the insurers’ substantial legal costs.
The insurers launched proceedings against him on the basis that sworn statements he had made in pursuit of his bogus claim amounted to a contempt of court. A judge jailed for him for a year, saying, "This is the plainest possible case of a fraudulent claim, with false witness statements and what would have been, had the trial proceeded, an attempt to obtain a good deal of money by perjured evidence."
In seeking to ‘purge’ his contempt, the man apologised for what he had done and said that he was desperate for release so that he could return to his business and caring for his four children. He also pointed out that, as a civil rather than a criminal prisoner, he could not qualify for early release on home detention.
However, in refusing to release him, the judge said, "This type of fraudulent conduct, involving the abuse of the processes of the court, is a very serious matter. Those who engage in it have to expect significant terms of imprisonment. A sentence of 12 months' imprisonment was necessary and proportionate. I am not persuaded that there is any reason to discharge him from that appropriate sentence."