Footballer given suspended jail sentence over false whiplash claim

Gary Burnett Image copyright Northwich Victoria
Image caption Burnett boasted on Twitter about scoring in an FA Trophy tie less than three weeks after his accident

A semi-professional footballer who falsely claimed he would be injured for a month after a road accident has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Gary Burnett, who played for Northwich Victoria, said he suffered whiplash in a crash outside a McDonald's drive-thru in Birkenhead in October 2013.

But the day after claiming he was injured, he tweeted: "Nice little trek to Kendal later for footy".

He was given four months, suspended for a year, for being in contempt of court.

The striker's tweets alerted motor insurers, who began an investigation which led to him being found in contempt of court for making false statements in personal injury proceedings.

Window cleaner Burnett of Lowton, Cheshire, did not think for one moment that he would be "rumbled" over his false claim, said Mr Justice Jay at the High Court in London.


The 25-year-old, once on the books of Wigan Athletic, had also boasted about playing and scoring in the FA Trophy less than three weeks after the accident.

Burnett's lawyer, Trevor Parry-Jones, said his "naive" client's footballing abilities were far greater than his "intellectual awareness of life".

"He has done everything that an investigator for an insurance company would wish a false claimant to do," Mr Parry-Jones added.

Burnett, who maintained he had suffered a genuine injury but acknowledged it was nowhere near as severe as he had claimed, admitted he was in contempt of court and made an abject apology.

He was ordered to pay £500 costs in addition to £11,000 to insurer Aviva after his damages claim was ruled fundamentally dishonest in July 2015.

Burnett now plays for National League North side Curzon Ashton in the sixth tier of English football.

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