A man has been found guilty of fraudulently attempting to claim £100,000 in damages for a personal injury allegedly sustained at work.
A private prosecution, brought by Axa Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, secured a conviction for Paul Gustar on two counts of insurance fraud.
The jury at Truro Crown Court took just 42 minutes to unanimously find Gustar guilty. On handing down a three year jail sentence to Gustar, suspended for two years, His Honour Judge Harvey Clark said: “This insurance company is entirely justified in bringing this prosecution [and] its purpose has been to deter insurance fraud. I must pass sentence in recognition of this.”
Noting that Gustar’s wife was of a “fragile state of mind” and relied to a significant degree on Gustar’s care, His Honour Judge Clark remarked that he was showing mercy “with considerable reservation” and suspended the sentence.
He added: “I want the message to go out – that it was appropriate and the insurers acted entirely properly in bringing this prosecution against you … you are a fortunate man. Leave with your wife. Next time I shall show no mercy.”
Axa said the original allegations were that in December 2007, Gustar had hurt his back through a system of work involving repetitive lifting and twisting and County Court proceedings were issued at Southampton County Court against Gustar’s employer claiming damages in excess of £100,000.
Gustar claimed to have reported the alleged incident to his line manager who gave evidence denying any such report taking place. In addition, the medical records showed a pre-existing back injury and a text message suggested an alternative explanation that the injury was sustained whilst pushing his girlfriend’s car.
The insurer explained that the civil claim was abandoned after Gustar changed his story on how the accident had taken place. Axa alleged that this change was in response to his realisation that the original claim was bound to fail.
Axa pursued a private prosecution after the courts advised that it would be unwilling to support action for contempt because it would take up a disproportionate amount of court time.
Chris Voller, claims director at Axa, said: “We didn’t take the decision to pursue a private prosecution lightly but it is increasingly important that collectively and individually, the industry does everything within its powers to combat fraud.
Article courtesy of Axa prosecutes fraudster following claim Insurance Age.