A jury has been sent out to consider its verdict in an alleged ‘cash for crashes’ fraud case in which it is said more than 200 people made false whiplash claims.
Prosecutors claim most of the 218 insurance claimants were bus passengers who were relatives, friends and associates of the 12 defendants on trial at Manchester Crown Court.
Eleven men and one woman from Chester, Ellesmere Port, Frodsham and North Wales all deny conspiracy to commit fraud.
The jury of eight women and four men was sent out about 3pm yesterday (Thursday, March 26) and deliberations are continuing today. His Honour Judge Andrew Blake is seeking a unanimous verdict.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Peter Cadwallader told the jury: “The starting point are the collisions, there are seven collisions. All are in the Chester area. All involve a bus. All, with the exception of the A41 Eastham Road collision, were identical or almost identical. By that I mean a car pulling out from the side into the nearside of the bus.
“All were very minor collisions. We suggest they were so minor that injury was essentially out of the question.”
The prosecutor alleged all the claimant passengers on the seven buses are ‘within a circle of people who are directly or indirectly connected’.
“It’s a circle which you can show the associations between the various people. Particularly they are linked to the organisers,” he added.
Prosecutors claim the key defendant ‘behind this fraudulent scheme’ is John Christopher Smith, 41, from Grasmere Close, Connah’s Quay, who ran Swift Accident Solutions in St John Street, Chester, but he denies all charges.
Smith alone is charged on all counts including making a false representation by failing to declare outstanding county court judgments when he applied for a licence to operate a claims management business.
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 Christleton Road/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, Chester, on January 21, 2012.
Other defendants accused of conspiracy to commit fraud 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 and Andrew Shaw, 57, from Ashton Drive, Frodsham.
The case continues.