A personal injury victim who grossly exaggerated his injuries to claim for £600,000 has been jailed for 10 months.
Mr Justice Constable said Mark Raymond Hilton had to face an immediate custodial sentence given the seriousness of his contempt and to ‘signal the gravity with which the court will deal with those seeking to gain from false and grossly exaggerated person injury claims’.
Hilton claimed following an accident at work in 2015 but was placed under surveillance by the defendant’s insurer, QBE. The investigation appeared to show that Hilton had made fraudulent statements, forged documents and massively over-stated the seriousness of his injuries.
The claimant had signed a statement of truth asserting that he could not dress himself, could barely walk, could not drive and required constant care and assistance. But surveillance evidence showed him driving a car to a shop and walking in without any obvious difficulty. The stick he carried was transferred from one hand to the other and appeared to be used for effect rather than a walking aid.
The court heard that after the claim was ultimately struck out, Hilton was ordered to pay the defendant’s costs and to repay the £10,000 interim payment he had received following early admission of liability. This order has gone unsatisfied.
QBE brought contempt proceedings, highlighting the fact that Hilton had used a forged birth certificate for one of his daughters to help his case. Constable said this was a ‘most calculated, if ineptly executed’ attempt at defrauding insurers.
Hilton’s representative in court pointed to his previous good character and the fact that he had parents who are elderly and in poor health. Character references suggested his conduct in making the claim was an ‘aberration and out of character’.
The judge reduced the sentence by a third to take account of Hilton’s guilty plea, but said in the absence of a compelling reason such as children or adults in his sole care, there was no proper basis to suspend the jail term.
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