Crash for cash fatal collision conviction – Denham, Buckinghamshire (amended)
Thursday 10 January 2013, 5:56pm
Five people were found guilty today (10/1), for their involvement in a fatal road traffic collision which happened in Denham on 11 June 2011.
The landmark case was heard at Reading Crown Court and is the first of its kind in the country as the deliberately-caused accident which had been arranged as part of a plan to commit insurance fraud led to a second collision causing the death of an innocent member of the public.
Andrzej Boguslaw Skowron, aged 25, from Shelley Gardens, Wembley, has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Radoslaw Piotr Bielawski, aged 24, from Rosewood Avenue, Greenford has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to commit fraud. He had already pleaded guilty to doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice.
Jacek Kowalczyk, aged 32, from Fraser Road, Perivale, Greenford, has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, conspiracy to commit fraud and doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice.
Artur Okrutny, aged 23, from Briar Road, London, has been convicted of doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice.
Colin Lee, aged 32, from York Place, Aylesbury, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving. Lee was the driver of the van that fatally collided with the victim.
The incident happened at around 8.25pm on Saturday 11 June 2011 on the A40 Western Avenue, between the Swakeley roundabout and Denham, heading out of London.
Two collisions took place in short succession of each other in lane three. The first was a deliberate act where the Polish defendants used a Volkswagen Passat and an Audi A3 to perform a dangerous manoeuvre to ensure that a collision occurred with an innocent Ford Transit Van and a Ford Fiesta, in order to claim personal injury compensation.
This staged collision then led to a second collision between a Renault Traffic van and the Fiesta, which resulted in the death of Baljinder Kaur Gill, aged 34, from Stanwell, near Staines.
Sgt Jim Upton, from the Three Mile Cross Roads Policing department, said: “This was a despicable act which led to the tragic death of an innocent motorist. The actions of these men who set out to induce a collision at speed on a 70mph limit road were always likely to lead to death or serious injury.
“They were purely motivated by greed and a determination to abuse the compensation culture that is prevalent in crash for cash.
“This is believed to be the first case of its kind within the United Kingdom and it has been a long, complex and protracted investigation. However, we were clear at an early stage that this was a very unusual fatal collision and we were determined to bring all those responsible to justice.
“I hope that the verdict provides the family of the victim with the sense that some justice has been done. They have been through a horrendous ordeal by the selfish actions of these men.
“Colin Lee was not involved in the plans to stage a collision for financial greed. However, his van collided with the stationary Fiesta.
Chris Hallett, Director of Intel & Complex Fraud of Hill Dickinson commenting on the outcome of the trial said, "Hill Dickinson Fraud Unit regularly works in partnership with regional police forces investigating 'crash for cash' gangs.
“It has always been only a matter of time before an innocent road user was injured or killed; quite aside from the financial burden such scams place upon the public.
“We welcomed the opportunity to work with Thames Valley Police and assist them, alongside our insurer client, during the early stages of their investigation into this tragic event. Our sympathies, thoughts and condolencesgoto the family of Baljinder Gill.”
Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said:
“This case involved the staging of a road traffic collision for financial gain, which caused the death of an innocent motorist, Miss Baljinder Kaur Gill.
“Miss Gill lost her life on 11 June 2011, as a consequence of a ‘crash for cash’ insurance scam collision on the A40 near Denham, Buckinghamshire; a collision contrived by a ruthless gang of men, so that they could profit financially from the submission of fraudulent insurance claims.Her death was Britain’s first fatality as a result of ‘crash for cash’.An earlier report from the Insurance Fraud Bureau warned it was merely a matter of time before a death occurred on British roads – sadly prophetic words. The location chosen for the staged collision created an obvious risk that an innocent motorist would be killed as a result of their greed.
“According to figures from the Insurance Fraud Bureau, the annual cost to the motor industry of ‘crash for cash’ is of the order of £392 million.. The risk that these defendants took with the lives of innocent motorists such as Miss Gill was enormous. The potential advantage to them was comparatively small. Whiplash to three of them would have secured them between £12-15,000, plus whatever damage was done to their car. They selfishly placed their own financial gain over and above the life of Miss Gill.
“The ‘crash for cash’ scam has increasingly blighted the roads of the UK in the last few years, placing innocent road users in unnecessary peril.The result of this case sends a clear message to those who might consider becoming involved in similar activities that they not only risk the lives of innocent members of the community, but they will be brought robustly to justice.
“As a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, and especially Sergeant Upton and PC Gibson, justice has been achieved for the victim and her family and friends.The officers, from Thames Valley Police’s Road Death Investigation Team, determined that this was a ‘crash for cash’ case at an early stage and thereafter pursued what was a complex fraud investigation.
“We hope that today’s convictions will in some way help Miss Gill’s family and friends come to terms with this tragic event.However, we acknowledge that nothing can make up for the loss felt by the family and friends of Miss Gill and our thoughts are very much with them at this difficult time.
“The Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with Thames Valley Police during this investigation and will continue to seek to bring to justice anyone who engages in similar lawless behaviour.”
Mike Brown, Head of Counter Fraud Intelligence at Direct Line car insurance, said: "Direct Line is pleased with this verdict. We believe this case sends out a strong message that ‘crash for cash’ scams and insurance fraud are not harmless and victimless crimes. It is vital that perpetrators of crimes of this sort are brought to justice. Our thoughts and condolences are with Miss Gill's family, at what will be a difficult time for them."
Phil Bird, Director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said: “This tragic case illustrates the very real danger ‘crash for cash’ poses to UK motorists. It’s not just a criminal enterprise costing £392 million every year and inflating every policyholder’s premium. By deliberately causing accidents, organised criminal gangs are putting people in danger and gambling with the lives of innocent people.
“The IFB welcomes today’s verdicts, which are testament to the joint work of Thames Valley Police and the insurance industry in bringing fraudsters to justice. If you know anyone involved in ‘crash for cash’ fraud, report them to the IFB’s free and confidential Cheatline by calling 0800 422 0421.”
The men have all been bailed until 15 February to be sentenced at Reading Crown Court.