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Roofer in PI fraud narrowly avoids prison

A dishonest roofer who tried to commit a £75,000 personal injury fraud has avoided an immediate jail sentence by the ‘narrowest of margins’.

Mr Justice Cotter said the claimant in Haven Insurance Company Ltd v Higham had chosen deliberately to pursue a course of fraud which was only stopped by the insurer spending considerable sums on surveillance.

But the judge noted the ‘significant personal mitigation’ offered by the claimant that his wife had died two years before his accident and he had since struggled ‘both emotionally and financially’.

The judge said it would be ‘disastrous’ to send the claimant, a sole carer, to prison and take away the only constant in his youngest son’s life.

‘I make it clear that it has been a difficult exercise to consider whether to suspend the sentence,’ said the judge. ‘By the narrowest of margins and applying the court’s mercy, I have decided I should suspend the sentence.’

The court heard that the claimant had admitted contempt of court in relation to his claim for personal injury damages following an RTA in 2019.

Two medical reports set out the nature of his head and knee injuries and the claim was valued at £200,000. The case was discontinued after the insurer served a defence and counter schedule alleging fundamental dishonesty.

The claimant had told his medical expert that he had ongoing symptoms which stopped him doing jobs around the house and prevented him going up and down ladders due to dizziness.

He claimed he was due to start employment a few months after the accident but was prevented from doing so by his injuries.

But Haven initiated a 19-month surveillance operation where the claimant was seen on 10 different days to be working as a roofer. He was seen climbing on the roof of his van and working on chimneys – tasks that would never have been possible if his dizziness was genuine.

The judge said the potential fraud was worth £75,000. The claimant was sentenced to two months’, suspended for a year.

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