A bodybuilder who claimed £2.3 million for car crash that left him 'mute and brain damaged' was caught on camera by The Surveillance Group as he worked out at gym.
- Michael Richards was also filmed driving despite claim he needed constant care
- Jailed for four months for contempt of court
A car crash victim who claimed he had been left 'mute and incoherent' in an attempt to swindle millions of pounds in compensation was yesterday jailed.
Michael Richards, 31, only suffered minor head injuries and fractures following a car accident which left two people dead.
However in a bid to secure a £2.3 million compensation payout from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, Richards lied about the severity of his injuries claiming he had suffered severe brain injuries and left in need of a carer.
During an 80-minute examination by a top London neuro-psychologist he uttered just 15 words.
It later transpired he had no problem speaking just days after the accident. When he was subsequently interviewed by police on an unrelated matter he spoke lucidly and fluently.
The call centre worker was also filmed working out in a gym with weights, waving to friends, shopping and driving a car - all without the aid of a carer.
Richards of Bletchley, Milton Keynes, was yesterday jailed for four months for contempt of court.
His sister Serina Richards was sentenced to 14 days and his foster father, retired engineer Terence Alan Bassnett, 65, also of Bletchley, received a 14 day sentence suspended for six months for their part in lying about his injuries.
Mike Pope, a partner at Weightmans LLP which acted for the MIB, said the judgment sent ‘out a clear warning to dishonest claimants that the courts will not tolerate them.
‘Mr Richards was determined to defraud the Motor Insurers’ Bureau - and therefore all honest premium paying motorists - out of £2.3million. So this contempt of court action was absolutely vital.
‘Now more than ever, the public purse must be protected against opportunistic and organised fraudsters. And this is what the courts have done today.’
Richards attempted fraud centred around a fatal accident in Milton Keynes in 2004.
He was a passenger in a car which crashed at high speed into a house and claimed the lives of the driver and a second passenger.
During a hearing yesterday, the High Court heard that if Richards had not been so greedy, the injuries he did sustain would have justified an insurance pay-out of around £20,000.
However the multi-million pound payout he sought instead aroused the suspisions of the MIB.
Lawyers examining his medical records discovered he was simultaneously pursuing a claim for a sporting injury in 2002, which subsequently paid out £10,000.
And it was here that Richards was caught out. Just days after the 2004 crash, he went to his GP for a medical report related to the 2002 claim. It was clear he had no problem speaking - despite the crash just days earlier.
The lawyers used this in evidence to show that his brain damage claim was a sham.
When presented with the complete surveillance evidence in late 2009, Richards shamelessly sought to settle with the MIB for £10,000, which was rejected.
Instead the MIB sought to pursue Richards through the courts.
Mr Pope said: ‘In 2009, Mr Richards was arrested in connection with other matters and this revealed Mr Richards speaking to the officers normally while under questioning, and without any assistance from a carer.
‘Furthermore, the address provided by Mr Richards to the officers as his home address was completely different to the council property he had quoted when making his claim.
‘When the new address was put under surveillance we quickly amassed footage of him living a completely normal life, working out at the gym, talking normally and driving a car.’
Insurance fraud costs an estimated £2billion a year and adds an extra £50 to the insurance bill of every honest UK policyholder. Uninsured and untraced drivers add a further £30 a year in premium.
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