Pair of personal-injury claims brought after the collision were dismissed, reports Amy Molloy
A road crash was staged in a bid to make money after two men who knew each other as teenagers met by chance on a night out.
A judge asked “Is it any wonder insurance premiums are high?” as she dismissed two personal-injury claims brought in relation to the staged accident nine years ago.
Details of the set-up were revealed in Roscommon Circuit Court as solicitors for the first-named defendant sought for the claims to be thrown out for abuse of the legal process.
Judge Karen Fergus directed the cases be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), saying this was not the first staged crash she had come across and criticising those who bring fraudulent claims.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned,” she said.
David Gannon (44), the second-named defendant, with a previous address of Oaklawn Drive, Racecourse Road, Co Roscommon, admitted the incident was staged and claimed he was pressurised into taking part in the scam.
Plaintiffs Margaret Teresa McDonagh and Brian Mongan, both with addresses in the UK, brought separate personal-injury claims after alleging they were injured in an accident on the Galway Road in Roscommon on April 13, 2013.
Fiachra Breathnach BL, on behalf of the first-named defendant, Margaret Patricia McDonagh, said he used the word “alleged” on purpose because it was their case that the accident was all a set-up.
There were no independent witnesses, no specific location was given and it transpired that some of those involved in the proceedings knew each other.
The court heard David Gannon was alleged to have rear-ended a car driven by Margaret Patricia McDonagh, the first-named defendant, and both Mr Mongan and Margaret Teresa McDonagh were passengers in the vehicle.
However, Mr Breathnach said Mr Gannon had previously received a seven-month suspended sentence after he was arrested by gardaí and convicted of intent to defraud and causing criminal damage to a rental car in relation to the same incident.
In a statement provided to Grainger Accident Investigations, Mr Gannon outlined how the staged crash came about. He recalled a chance meeting with Brian Mongan on a night out in Co Galway in 2013. The pair knew each other from when they were teenagers.
Mr Mongan told Mr Gannon he had money problems and was looking for somewhere to stay for the night.
He started to call to Mr Gannon’s house on a regular basis after that and talk about how to make money, suggesting they hire a car and stage a crash. Mr Gannon said he was “put under pressure” in April 2013 to rent a car from Budget Car Rental in Eyre Square, Galway city, and was told he would get a cut of any money received from a claim.
He drove the car to a location on the Galway Road in Roscommon town, got out and stood on the grass bank.
He claimed Mr Mongan then got out of his car, got into the rental vehicle and shunted his own car several times.
Mr Gannon said there was another man at the scene, but he was not in the car at the time of the collision, and there were no women present.
A number of years later, Mr Gannon was arrested in relation to the incident and charged with fraud and criminal damage, for which he received a seven-month sentence that was suspended for two years.
The court was told the personal-injury claims were submitted to the Injuries Board in 2015, only 11 days before the statute of limitations was due to expire. Judge Fergus noted this was probably all part of the scheme.
After making enquiries and learning of the fraudulent nature of the claims, Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors, who were representing the first-named defendant, notified the plaintiffs’ solicitors about the true circumstances of the accident and informed them of their intention to come off record and seek for the claims to be dismissed.
Mr Breathnach said the details of the case came as a “surprise” to the plaintiffs’ solicitors, who said they would take instructions from their clients and revert.
The plaintiffs’ solicitors later sought to come off record.
Flynn Bros Rent-A-Car and
Budget Car Rental were joined as the third and fourth defendants. RSA Insurance Ireland, the insurer of one of the parties involved, also sought to be joined as co-defendant.
An affidavit of Ian Hodgson, a claims investigator for RSA, stated how he received a request from RSA to interview Margaret Patricia McDonagh.
He carried out searches to obtain an address for her. He said both addresses he found were also linked to Brian Mongan, who the court heard was married to Ms McDonagh.
He called to a property in the UK and said he spoke with a woman who was “about 35 years of age”. He asked whether she was Margaret Patricia McDonagh. She said: “I am, who’s asking?”
He asked her about correspondence sent from RSA about the accident. She replied: “Who is RSA? I have never had an accident.”
Judge Fergus dismissed both claims, granted permission for the solicitors to come off record and directed that the case be referred to the DPP.