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CITY TRIBUNE

Car accident was ‘staged’ for insurance con attempt

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Fake claims for personal injuries, made against an insurance company by a man involved in a staged road traffic accident, were dismissed at Galway Civil Court.

Flavius Grancea (22), who lives with his in-laws, the Samu family, at 33 Fana Glas, Ballybane, sued his house mate, Alexandra Badila, for injuries to his back, left knee and head, which he claimed he had sustained in a two-car collision on April 8, 2014.

Grancea also made a separate, second claim for personal injuries against Axa Insurance DAC.

The insurance company fought the case, contending the ‘accident’ had been staged for the purpose of making false insurance claims.

The court heard that Badila, who was unemployed had bought a Saxo car for €500 and obtained insurance from Axa on March 27, 2014 – twelve days before the ‘accident’ occurred.

The front seat passenger in the Audi A4 car, which the Saxo had purportedly rear-ended, was a Romanian woman named Wirginia Qutja, who had paid a €200 deposit to secure Badila’s Axa insurance policy.

Róisín McGuinness from Axa’s special investigations unit, told the hearing Ms Qutja was already an Axa customer at the time of this incident.  She said that during her investigation of the plaintiff’s personal injuries claims, she noticed that Ms Qutja’s mobile phone number and email address were used to contact the insurance company for a quote two weeks before the insurance policy was taken out for the Saxo car and that Qutja had paid the deposit.

Only two instalments were subsequently paid and the policy was cancelled by Axa on June 14, 2014 for non-payment of instalments.

She said Ms Qutja also made a claim against Badila’s insurance policy and Axa for personal injuries in relation to the collision, but withdrew her claims when told by the insurance company that she was being joined to the proceedings before the court as a co-defendant.

Neither Badila nor Ms Qutja were present in court.

With the help of a Romanian interpreter, Grancia told the hearing he was a front seat passenger in a Citroen Saxo car being driven by Badila.  His pregnant wife and his mother-in-law, Tita Samu, were back seat passengers.

He claimed their car, which was travelling from Fana Glas to Cluain Riocard, rear-ended an Audi A4 (being driven by Alexsander Qutja) which braked suddenly as it approached the Bothar na Choiste junction with the Tuam Road on the outskirts of Galway city.

He said he got out after the impact and dragged his pregnant wife from the back of the car.

Someone rang the emergency services and three fire brigades and three or four ambulances arrived on the scene.

John O’Donnell, BL, who represented Axa insurance, put it to Grancea that while Gardaí who examined the scene found the Saxo car was effectively written off, there was no corresponding damage to the rear of the Audi, save for a popped brake light cover.

Mr O’Donnell said no collision could have occurred because the Saxo was found by Gardaí 15 metres behind and up a hill from the Audi and its extensive damage was inconsistent with the lack of damage to the rear of the Audi.

In reply to the barrister, Grancea said he was an honest man and had never been in court before.

Detective Garda Bernard McLoughlin, who investigated the alleged accident, gave evidence to the contrary.

He said this accident had occurred at around 10.30pm on the date in question and Grancea had appeared before Longford District Court just hours beforehand and had subsequently received convictions for theft and possession of weapons.

Det. McLoughlin said that he had never come across an accident like this one before.  “Nothing added up. It made no sense. In my twelve years attending the scenes of accidents, alarm bells started ringing with this one.

“The firemen had to cut the roofs off the cars to get the people out. It didn’t appear to me that anybody was injured. Nothing matched up.  It was very different to any other RTA I ever attended,” he said.

He pointed out that there was no debris on the road to indicate the point of the supposed impact.

He said no criminal proceedings had been brought as yet because the investigation was still ongoing and a file on alleged fake, staged accidents was being compiled at present.

Grancea, the court was told, got on a stretcher and spent a few hours in A&E before being told to go home and see his own GP.   Two medical reports handed into court stated he suffered only superficial soft tissue injury.

Grancea said his wife had been kept for a few days in the hospital. He denied a suggestion that she had not been in the Saxo car at all. She was not present in court.

Judge John King said that placing everything else aside, and just looking at the photos of both cars, along with the location of the vehicles at the scene and the inconsistencies of Grancea’s evidence, he could not find for the plaintiff and dismissed his claims for damages.  He also awarded costs in favour of Axa.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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