Crash for Cash – Landmark Successful Prosecution
5th August 2016 Park Square Barristers
About 5 or 6 years ago over lunch one day David Dixon was chatting to Judy Dawson about the endemic situation of civil fraud claims. Following that discussion David, along with others from the now PSQB criminal team, lectured to various solicitors and insurers about the option of private prosecutions.
A steady stream of requests for advices about the prospects of such prosecutions followed, some were declined but some were indicated to be good cases to pursue. Following such advices some cases were prepared up to the point of issue, but then for a variety of reasons insurers opted not to continue with matters.
In mid 2014 Keoghs Solicitors instructed David Dixon to consider a prosecution of 21 people involved in an alleged bus related staged accident claim, Keoghs seeing the advantages to the insurer, Service Underwriting Management Limited. Following advice and further work the case was eventually prepared for summons to be issued from Wakefield Magistrates Court, allegedly against the driver dangerous driving and he and the rest fraud. Initially the Court wasn’t prepared to issue a 21 handed private prosecution, indicating that the case should be referred to the police and CPS. (The police had already indicated they did not see that they could take the case for their own reasons.) Following a refusal to take the case Keogh’s pressed on, Camilla Buck arguing before the Court on their behalf, and summons were issued.
At the Crown Court in Leeds, David Dixon and Camilla Buck prosecuted the 21 Defendants. 3 trials were ordered, following not guilty pleas at earlier stages, but as each trial came the Defendants all pleaded guilty showing that this was a good case to prosecute.
In simple terms 19 of the Defendants boarded a bus and travelled on it towards Pontefract. The other two defendants were the driver and passenger in a Micra car that followed and was in due course deliberately crashed into the bus. The Crown alleged that all of the Defendants were party to a pre-planned agreement to make fraudulent insurance claims based on the collision they knew was to come.
The bus was covered with CCTV cameras and prior to the collision certain of the Defendants could be seen watching to see when the car had made contact with the bus, and then signalling to the others. Upon the collision taking place (which was minimal at best to those on the bus) the Defendants then jumped up and acted like they had been involved in a massive collision. One Defendant almost threw himself down the aisle of the bus like he was “superman” – click on the image below to view the clip.