Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) has avoided paying £100,000 to Mark Anthony Smith after he admitted staging an accident against the council.
The accident, which took place on January 13, 2009, involved Smith manoeuvring his vehicle in front of a Doncaster MBC van and then applying his brakes so that he came to a complete stop, causing a rear shunt collision.
The entire accident took place in a tunnel and was captured by CCTV.
Shortly after accident, Smith can be seen on the footage moving his car forwards and colliding twice with the tunnel wall.
Scott Clayton, claims fraud and investigations manager at Zurich, said: “We are pleased that Mr Smith has admitted his crime and been prosecuted.
“Zurich takes a zero tolerance approach towards fraud in general but when it also involves dangerous driving which puts innocent people in danger, we want to ensure those responsible receive the maximum punishment to deter others from taking similar action.”
Commenting on the case, His Honour Judge Christopher Moss QC said he was quite satisfied that Smith's conduct was fraudulent from the outset, in that it was a classic staged accident.
Zurich had previously defended successfully a civil trial against Smith on May 25, 2011.
His Honour Judge Robinson found that Smith had driven his vehicle deliberately into the tunnel wall after the accident, commenting in his judgement that this was “…the worst example of lying in the witness box that he had ever seen”.
Armed with this judgement from the civil proceedings, Zurich referred the matter to the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) - triggering a criminal investigation.
Clayton continued: “Initially we declined Mr Smith’s accident claim on the basis that he had deliberately stopped suddenly without warning and resulting in a collision, but he was quite determined in his efforts, rejecting our response and submitting claims for damage to his Porsche, personal injury resulting from the accident and credit hire costs!
“Overall, this prosecution has achieved £100,000 savings in payments to Mr Smith and associated costs, which would’ve been paid by the local authority. A confiscation order has been granted by His Honour Judge Moss QC whereby Mr Smith's assets will be considered for any reimbursement of monies that were paid, such as the defence costs in the civil trial and the payment made by Mr Smith's insurer for the value of the Porsche written off by his fraudulent activity.
“This is the first criminal case Zurich referred to the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and we are happy with the results.”
DC Kate Sibley, who led IFED’s investigation, said: “Mr Smith must have thought a fancy car and clever plan would be the easy route to securing tens of thousands of pounds from insurers.
“The fact he was putting lives at risk by causing a crash, on a busy road, did not put the brakes on his fraud. He wanted this money and was prepared to go the distance to get it.
“But what Mr Smith did not count on was IFED and industry working together to expose criminals like him, who think insurance fraud is an easy way to boost their bank balance.”