A fraud trial has begun centred on allegedly stage-managed bus crashes on roads around Chester, involving a sum believed to be in excess of £1m.
Eleven men and one woman from Chester, Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Wirral, and North Wales have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in the case at Manchester Crown Court.
One of their number is also accused of making false representation, which is denied.
Prosecutor Peter Cadwallader told the jury panel: “In a nutshell, the conspiracy charges refer to what is commonly referred to as ‘cash for crash’ fraud.”
He continued: “The plan was a car would deliberately crash into a bus on seven separate occasions, with 30 or so people on the bus.
“The occupants of the vehicle or vehicles made false injury claims, in this case something like 200-plus claimants.
“The way the money was made by the conspirators, as opposed to the claimants, was because solicitors at that time paid referral fees for every claimant introduced, of several hundred pounds.”
Mr Cadwallader did not put an overall figure on the scale of the fraud at this stage but at the time of the police investigation, it was said to possibly exceed £1m.
He outlined the case as part of the process to select the 12-strong jury from a panel of 30 to ensure none was connected in any way.
He said the first collision was in Cliveden Road, Lache, on October 29, 2010; the second was in Shelley Road, Blacon, on February 12, 2011; the third was in Sealand Road on June 18, 2011, the fourth was in Overleigh Road on June 24, 2011; the fifth was in Whitchurch Road on August 6, 2011; the sixth was on the A41 at Eastham on October 1, 2011 and the final collision was in Liverpool Road on January 21, 2012.
Trial judge, His Honour Judge Blake, told potential jury members to consider overnight whether they could sit in the case, especially given it could last until the end of April.
The defendants are: Charlotte Watts, 28, from Fford Almer, Wrexham; Jamie Stokes, 22, from Gosmore Road, Mold; Daniel Shaw, 27, from Milton Road, Blacon, Chester; Dean Brown, 42, from Kings Crescent West, Chester; Luke McQuillan, 40, from Dyserth Road, Blacon; Michael Gentile, 45, from Hawthorn Road, Chester; David Clancy, 36, from Normanby Drive, Connah’s Quay; Sean Kettyle, 43, from Westminster Road, Ellesmere Port; Barry Cooper, 35, from Hall Lane, Connah’s Quay; Richard Flynn, 48, from Church Street, Connah’s Quay; John Smith, 41, from Grasmere Close, Connah’s Quay and Andrew Shaw, 57, from Ashton Drive, Frodsham.
The case continues.