Three plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud after £150,000 worth of personal injury claims are made
Three friends from Liverpool have admitted deliberately causing a crash between a coach and a car on a Manchester motorway in a bid to fraudulently claim £150,000 in personal injuries.
Liam Gray pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, while his friends Ben Carberry and Kevin Hamilton each pleaded guilty to one count.
The case came to court after Service Underwriting referred suspicions about whiplash claims from 30 people who had been travelling by coach to Belle Vue dog track in Manchester, in December 2011, to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), triggering a criminal investigation.
The driver of the coach told the insurer he was made to pull over on a roundabout at a junction of the M57 by passengers who said the coach had been hit from behind by a Renault Megane, even though he had felt no impact.
He reported there was only very superficial damage to both vehicles, but the passengers decided to cancel their trip saying they felt unwell and asked to be taken back to the Mons pub in Bootle where they had been picked up.
He said before leaving the coach the entire group stated they had been injured and gave him their details. He then watched as they ran across a dual carriageway and into the pub.
The insurer later established through a social networking site that Gray, Carberry and Hamilton all knew each other and had been to Everton football matches together.
IFED detectives travelled to Liverpool twice in 2012, arresting Gray and Carberry in June and Hamilton and Joe Hindley a month later. They had found Gray hiding in a bathroom in Carberry’s flat and at Gray’s flat they seized Hamilton’s driving licence and documents relating to the Renault.
Their investigation established prior to the collision Gray had bought the Renault, along with insurance for Hamilton, and that Carberry had arranged and paid for the coach, as well as the group booking for the dog track.
They also identified Hamilton had driven the Renault at very low speed into the back of the coach and that Carberry was Gray’s contacts on the coach.
In November Gray was charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud, while Carberry, Hamilton and Hindley were each charged with one count.
Gray (26) was remanded in custody on August 19 to appear at Southwark Crown Court at a later date.
Carberry (20), and Hamilton (35) will also be sentenced at the court at a later date.
Joe Hindley (22) of Halcome Road in West Derby, charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud, was acquitted by Southwark Court on August 20.
Det Sgt Mark Forster who led IFED’s investigation, said: “This was a carefully planned crime by a group of friends who decided a coach trip to the dog track was the perfect vehicle to try and commit insurance fraud on a large scale.
“The fact they were putting lives at risk by causing a crash on a busy road did not hold them back. They wanted an insurer’s money and were prepared to go the extra mile to get it. But what these men did not count on was IFED and insurers working together to expose criminals who think insurance fraud is an easy way to bolster their bank balance.”
Ian Holmes, Claims Director at Service Underwriting, which acts on behalf of Mulsanne Insurance, said: “We are committed to identifying, investigating and defeating all aspects of fraudulent activity on behalf of our clients, which includes the prosecution of culpable individuals. These guilt pleas further enforce our commitment. We will continue to adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards such claims and thank IFED for its support in delivering these individuals to justice.”