Chester 'cash-for-crash' bus fraud: Ringleader convicted

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Media captionSeven crashes were staged, resulting in more than 200 false personal injury claims from bus passengers

The ringleader of a gang who ran a "cash-for-crash" scam involving bus passengers has been convicted of fraud.

John Smith, 41, from Connah's Quay, Deeside, staged seven collisions in Chester allowing more than 200 people to make false personal injury claims.

Ten other people were also found guilty at Manchester Crown Court for their part in the plot which police say could have totalled more than £1m.

Smith, who denied conspiracy to commit fraud, will be sentenced on 23 April.

All the collisions - six in Chester and a seventh on the A41 in Eastham - happened between 2010 and 2012 and followed a similar pattern, said police.

A car would collide with the side of a bus causing minimal impact but resulting in multiple personal injury claims from the passengers on board.

In total, 218 claims for claims were made for soft tissue damage and whiplash injuries, 177 through accident management firm Swift Accident Solutions where Smith was managing director.

'False claims'

The scam was unearthed when First Group became suspicious about the number of collisions involving its buses.

Smith, who was paid an average of £900 for each claimant he introduced to a solicitor, made a total of £159,000.

But Det Insp Simon Lonsdale of Cheshire Police said the scale of the intended fraud was much larger.

"Had all of the false claims created by Smith and his associates been successful we believe that the total cost would have been more than £1m, which would have been paid for by law-abiding citizens through their car insurance policies."

Ten defendants who denied conspiracy to commit fraud but were also convicted were:

  • Daniel Steven Shaw, 28, of Milton Road, Blacon, Chester
  • Luke McQuillan, 40, of Dyserth Road, Blacon, Chester
  • Charlotte Louise Watts, 28, of Ffordd Almer, Wrexham
  • Barry Cooper, 38, of Hall Lane, Connah's Quay, Deeside
  • Richard Andrew Flynn, 48, of Church Street, Connah's Quay, Deeside
  • Andrew John Shaw, 58, Ashton Drive, Frodsham
  • Michael Christopher Gentile, 45, of Hawthorn Road, Chester
  • Dean Howard Brown, 42, of Kings Crescent West, Chester, Cheshire
  • Sean Allan Kettyle, 43, of Westminster Road, Ellesmere Port
  • Andrew John Shaw, 48, of Ashton Drive, Frodsham

Five other defendants had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge for their role in the fraud:

  • Howard Christopher Taylor, 36, of Gladstone Road, Seaforth
  • Jason Power, 31, of Mary's Road, Wallasey
  • Rachel Cooper, 32, of Oxton Green, Great Sutton, Ellesmere Port
  • Mark William Taylor, 48, of Vyner Park, Prenton
  • Christopher John Bethell, 30, of Crosthwaite Avenue, Bromborough

Two men on trial were cleared of conspiracy to commit fraud.

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