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R v Niki David Robert McKenzie, Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), 21 August 2013

10 September 2013
The Issues

Fraud – road traffic – crash for cash.

The Facts

The defendant was convicted of a single count of fraud. 25 fraudulent claims had been involved in the conspiracy involving payouts by insurance companies of £483,000. The ring leader had been sentenced to seven years in prison. The defendant had fraudulently claimed to be a passenger in a road traffic accident which had never happened and had sought compensation for whiplash injuries.

The insurance company paid out £33,000.

At trial he pleaded not guilty but was convicted. The judge acknowledged that the defendant had a good job, a family that relied on him and that the case had taken a long time to come to court. He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. He appealed.

The Decision

Crash for cash was not a victimless crime. It added £50 a year to drivers premiums and cost the insurance industry millions of pounds. A deterrent sentence was appropriate. The prevalence of a type of fraud justified the judge starting above the guidelines and discounting the sentence to take into account the defendants personal circumstances. The defendant had also been ordered to contribute to the prosecution costs. Such an order should only be made if the defendant had the ability to pay. The order was in the sum of £3,242.00. The judge however had not had evidence of his means and whilst it was a classic case for contribution towards the prosecution costs the amount should be decreased to £1,500.

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