A 27-year-old man reared-ended a taxi on purpose so that passengers in the taxi could make a false insurance claim for personal injuries.
Barry Hynes, a father of two, from 40 Cullairbaun, Athenry, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in October to attempting to commit deception, involving a staged road traffic accident at Carnmore Cross, Galway, on October 16, 2014, by inducing FBD insurance to pay out on an insurance claim for the staged accident, with the intention of making a gain for himself or causing a loss to FBD, contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, and contrary to Common Law.
Sentence was adjourned to today for the preparation of a probation report on Hynes.
Detective Tom Doyle told the sentence hearing Hynes had been coerced and bullied by others into getting involved in the staged accident.
He said the main protagonist, who is the subject of an ongoing investigation and was not named in court, had bought the Passat car which Hynes was driving a few weeks before the accident was staged and had paid the deposit for an insurance policy which Hynes obtained from FBD for the 17-year-old car.
Det Doyle said from his investigations he found that four passengers, who were all related to the unnamed main protagonist or “accident arranger” got a taxi from a hotel in Oranmore to another hotel in Claregalway, six miles away.
Hynes rear-ended the taxi while it was stopped at traffic lights at Carnmore Cross, halfway between both hotels.
The taxi driver, who was unaware of the scam, told Gardai later that the impact was just a slight bump and no material damage was done to either car. The passengers said they were okay and both drivers exchanged insurance details at the scene, he said.
All four passengers in the taxi subsequently lodged claims against FBD insurance and the personal injuries board for personal injuries.
FBD launched an investigation and monitored social media contact which proved the parties involved were all related in some way.
Hynes was interviewed by FBD investigators and admitting knowing those involved. He said he was to be paid €600 and given a mobile phone for rear-ending the taxi.
FBD contacted Gardai and Det Doyle began his investigation.
He did a trawl of mobile phone activity between Hynes and the “arranger” before the accident occurred.
“FBD has not paid compensation to any of the parties involved in the accident,” Det Doyle added.
He agreed with defence counsel, James Charity, that Hynes had no previous convictions and was unlikely to reoffend.
He said Hynes had co-operated fully in the Garda investigation and was now living in fear of retaliation by the ‘arranger’.
“I believe he was bullied into doing this,” Det Doyle added.
He agreed with Mr Charity that it would have been very difficult to detect what had happened but for the full admissions made by Hynes to FBD investigators.
He said his client had got “cold feet” on the day and had not hit the taxi at the first opportunity. The “arranger” had been very angry with him and he did give the taxi “a slight bump” when the taxi approached the traffic lights on the return journey.
Afterwards, the passengers in the taxi were angry with him because he had not hit the taxi hard and had only nudged the car. He was given a broken mobile phone on the journey home.
Judge Rory MacCabe asked if other prosecutions had been taken or were they pending. Det Doyle confirmed Hynes had been fully co-operative, and while this was a stand-alone prosecution the investigation was ongoing.
Adopting the recommendations of a probation report which was handed into court, Judge MacCabe directed Hynes carry out 240 hours’ community service in lieu of a two-year prison sentence.
Afterwards the hearing, Jackie McMahon, Chief Claims Officer at FBD Insurance said: “We robustly defend suspect claims as otherwise our customers will pay for the fraud of others. This result sends a clear signal that the courts will not allow insurance fraudsters to cheat the majority of consumers. We hope this case will act as a severe deterrent to anyone considering insurance fraud.
“Insurance fraud ultimately costs everybody in the price they pay for their insurance. Suspected fraud will be vigorously contested, with the perpetrators brought to justice.”