Engineer jailed for eight months after making fraudulent personal injury claim

by Redmans Solicitors on July 9, 2013

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A Sunderland engineer has been jailed for eight months after he was caught on camera playing rugby whilst purportedly making a claim for £923,000 for injuries to his wrist.

Mr David Ribchester, 31, made a claim for personal injury after he received injuries to his wrists and hands in a workplace accident in February 2006. He then started to claim personal injury against his employers. Throughout the personal injury claim Mr Ribchester had told specialist consultants and doctors that he was unable to cope on his own and that he needed personal care to help him get in and out of the bath and that he also struggled to open jars, carry out chores, play the drums and drive his car. He further managed to convince two consultant psychiatrists that he had been psychologically damaged by the accident, leading to a diagnosis of moderate post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

Whilst defending the claim, the insurers handling the matter decided to refer the case to their in-house anti-fraud team due to suspicions that Mr Ribchester’s injuries were becoming more exaggerated as time passed. The anti-fraud team therefore sent a private investigator to secretly film Mr Ribchester and found that he was engaging in many acts that he had previously stated that he could not physically handle because of the injuries that he had incurred. This included being able to pick up his daughter, play rugby, drive his car, push a trolley and carry heavy objects. The footage was sent to his personal injury solicitors and it is believed that his personal injury claim has been discontinued. The matter was, however, also referred to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service recommended that Mr Ribchester be prosecuted for fraud.

The case came to the Old Bailey earlier this year. The court heard evidence regarding Mr Ribchester’s personal injury claim and the secret filming and found Mr Ribchester guilty of fraud by false representation. The former engineer had already previously pleaded guilty to the offence.

Judge Nicholas Cooke, sentencing him, stated: “Genuinely injured people putting forward wholly honest claims are viewed sceptically because of the publicity in relation to this sort of matter. Anyone who is tempted to behave in a dishonest way to the extent that you did by attempting to exploit a system which exists to compensate the genuinely injured will end up going to prison.”

Comment from Mr Ribchester’s criminal defence solicitors could not be found after the ruling.

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury solicitor at Redmans, commented: “As the Judge commented, genuine personal injury claims are tinged with a degree of dishonesty because of the public perception of personal injury – a perception which is to an extent worsened by fraudulent acts such as this.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in London

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