Friday 18 October 2019

Men behind failed €60,000 injury claims concocted plan to 'win the lotto'

Stephen Deane, of Saint Mary's Place, Dorset Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
Stephen Deane, of Saint Mary's Place, Dorset Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

Three uninjured drinking pals sat waiting for firemen to cut them out of a rear-ended taxi having concocted a plan to “win the lotto” by way of €60,000 damages claims for personal injuries, a judge told them.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, told Dean Masterson and his friends Stephen Deane and Shane O’Leary he did not believe they had been so badly injured that they were unable to get out of the vehicle until firemen removed the roof.

Shane O'Leary pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a Circuit Civil Court action involving two of his friends, Dean Masterson and Stephen Deane.Pic: Collins Courts
Shane O'Leary pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a Circuit Civil Court action involving two of his friends, Dean Masterson and Stephen Deane.Pic: Collins Courts

They had claimed they had been injured when an untraced vehicle had run into the back of Brendan Spearing’s taxi, which was being driven by Oluramti Awogboro along narrow East Road, Dublin, in late January 2013. Only Masterson and Deane followed through with their claims.

Judge Groarke said Masterson, himself a 32-year-old taximan of Dorset Street, Flats, Dublin, had told the court he was “so overwhelmed” by the collision he was unable to get out of the vehicle, while Deane, a 35-year-old painter, of Saint Mary’s Place, Dorset Street, had been unable to get out because he was “in panic” following the minimal contact accident.

Judge Groarke said Mr O’Leary, “who is a sensible man who did not pursue his claim,” had been “so overcome” he was unable to move in order to get out.

The judge told barristers Helen McCarthy, for the taxi owner and driver, and Philip Fennel, for the Motor Insurance Bureau, that it was perfectly obvious from pictures they presented to court that there was no damage whatsoever to the back bumper of the rear-ended taxi.

“The evidence from each of these two plaintiffs was of a rapidly reached agreement by all three passengers before gardaí and firemen arrived that they would concoct serious injuries which left them incapable of getting out of the car,” Judge Groarke said.

He said each of the three men had similar type soft tissue injuries and none of them had been able to escape from the vehicle notwithstanding the noise and upset of firemen cutting off the roof.

“This is as bad a story as I have ever heard concocted and really amounts to deceit and fraud,” Judge Groarke said. “There is no question of these three men having been so badly injured that they were physically incapable of getting out of the car.  I don’t believe it for one minute.”

He said the whole scheme had been agreed in a rapidly conceived plan while they were waiting in the car for the fire brigade and gardaí to arrive.

“To say they were exaggerating their evidence does not do the situation sufficient justice,” he said. “They had suffered no injuries whatsoever and I dismiss their claims accordingly.”

Judge Groarke told Ms McCarthy, who appeared with AXA Legal Services, and Mr Fennel, who appeared with Stephen Mackenzie solicitors, that their clients were entitled to recover their legal costs.

Afterwards a spokesman for the MIBI said the two cases had been challenged under the Bureau’s process of thoroughly investigating and contesting suspicious claims, a process outlined in their “Fighting Fraud” strategy.

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