A Scunthorpe man has been jailed for seven months after trying to claim over half a million pounds for injuries he said he sustained in a minor car crash.
After the crash in Scunthorpe in March 2013, Sean Batley, now 56, of High Street in Crowle, filed a claim worth £571,000 three years later for brain injury, spinal disc injury, whiplash and migraines among others. The claim was for injury and loss of earnings.
Batley, who previously served a six-and-a-half-year sentence for sexual offences, claimed these injuries forced him to leave his job as a machine operator in 2014 and spend a year unemployed before setting up his own window cleaning business in April 2015, which subsequently failed because of his injuries.
Investigations by law firm Clyde & Co, on behalf of insurer AXA, revealed Batley had set up his window cleaning business a year earlier in April 2014 and had never stopped working.
Dates on the invoices Batley produced had been altered. It was also revealed the failure of the business was entirely unrelated to Batley’s health.
Evidence from medical rehabilitation practitioners showed Batley had not stopped working while undergoing treatment.
His claim that the crash had triggered serious migraine headaches was undermined by records from HMP Whatley, where he served a sentence for sexual offences – 13 charges of sex offences, including seven of sexual assault, some against teenage girls.
The prison records showed no history of migraines and the crash happened just nine days after Batley was released from his sentence.
Batley was found guilty of contempt of court at the Royal Court of Justice in London this week. During sentencing, the judge, her honour Judge Coe, said she had reached the conclusion that Batley’s conduct was so serious it merited an immediate sentence of imprisonment.
Damian Rourke, a partner at Clyde and Co who led the investigation, said: “This is one of the most shameful attempts I’ve seen to turn a minor accident into a huge payday. Once Batley realised his deception had failed, he tried to apologise to the court but it was too late.
“The law is very clear: if you exaggerate an injury for financial gain, the court can dismiss the claim and punish you. In this case, Batley’s claim was so grossly exaggerated, the judge felt he deserved to be jailed.”
Tom Wilson, senior counter fraud operations manager for AXA, said: “Insurance fraud is a serious crime which has significant consequences for fraudsters. Fraudulent claims result in higher insurance premiums for honest customers as insurers are faced with increased costs. That’s why AXA works hard to prevent fraud by investigating suspicious claims and by taking fraudulent claimants to court when necessary.
“We hope this punishment serves as a warning to deter others from attempting to commit insurance fraud and shows that we will take all action necessary to protect our customers.”