A cash for crash gang narrowly escaped being sent to prison when they appeared at Teesside Crown Court recently.
The gang of five staged a car crash in the County Durham town of Peterlee so they could claim personal injury compensation. Gang member Gary Morton drove a taxi into the back of a vehicle driven by Stuart Mackie, another member of the gang. The men then tried to claim £16,800 from the insurers.
Mackie and another gang member, Simon Hubble, had also made false claims in November 2008 after Hubble drove into a woman’s car in Peterlee. That accident was genuine but the insurance company flagged the subsequent personal injury claims as fraudulent.
Jolyon Perks, the prosecutor in the latest case, told the Crown Court that injuries were exaggerated and people claimed to be in the vehicles when they were not. Hubble and Mackie pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring to commit fraud and the other gang members pleaded guilty to one count. Mackie also pleaded guilty to resetting the mileage on cars to make it look as if they had not been used as much before he tried to sell them.
The Judge presiding over proceedings, Judge Peter Armstrong, said that the offences were so serious that a custodial sentence was fully justified, but those sentences can be suspended.
Mackie received a nine months jail sentence suspended for a term of two years plus 150-hours of unpaid community service. Hubble got six months, again suspended for a period of two years, and in additional to his 150-hours unpaid work, he has to pay costs of £500. The other men have to do community service and pay costs varying from £200 to £500.