Prison sentence for Manchester man who falsely claimed for hire car costs following accident

The sentence comes following a case brought by national law firm Weightmans on behalf of courier Tuffnells Parcels Express.

A Manchester man has been sentenced to eight months in prison after making £100,000 of false insurance claims for hire cars, vehicle damage and legal costs after an alleged collision with a national courier company’s vehicle.

John Vernon (53) from Manchester admitted contempt of court and was sentenced on 5th February 2018, in what may be the first case of contempt based on credit hire fraud to be heard in the High Court.

The case was brought by national law firm Weightmans on behalf of courier Tuffnells Parcels Express.

Weightmans had earlier successfully established in the County Court that Mr Vernon had dishonestly claimed for hire cars and exaggerated the extent of damage to his vehicle, after the alleged incident in August 2014.

Such was the level of dishonesty by Mr Vernon that Tuffnells went on to bring contempt proceedings against him.

At the hearing on 5th February 2018, His Honour Judge Bird, sitting as a High Court judge, noted that those making false claims should expect to go to prison and rejected Mr Vernon’s argument for a suspended sentence.

Jeff Turton, associate in the Liverpool office of Weightmans, who acted on behalf of Tuffnells (pictured), said: “This was a very important case for our client and it sends out the clear message that they will adopt a zero-tolerance approach to anybody who pursues a fraudulent claim against them.  

Jeff Turton

“The sentence also encourages anybody who is offered a credit hire vehicle after a road traffic accident to really think about what they are signing up for. These vehicles are not courtesy vehicles and it is vital that a claimant is sure they actually need that vehicle before entering a credit hire agreement. It is equally important that the evidence a claimant gives in support of a compensation claim is totally honest and frank as, once lies are discovered, the consequences to that claimant may be far graver than the dismissal of their claim.”

Vernon originally claimed for the pre-accident value of his Audi Q7 which he stated was left an unroadworthy write-off. He also claimed for other alleged losses, including significant charges for hire vehicles, stating he had no access to other vehicles at the time.

The investigation into the claim revealed that the vehicle had been subsequently repaired and re-insured by Vernon on a date after he claimed it had been sold. It also found that Vernon had a motor vehicle bearing his private plate, which was available to him to use during the hire period.

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