Sunday 25 February 2018

Romanian gang in car crash scam for personal injury claims - judge

L-R: Martin and John Gerard Corcoran originally from Galway but living in a London Halting site pictured leaving the Four Courts following a Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
L-R: Martin and John Gerard Corcoran originally from Galway but living in a London Halting site pictured leaving the Four Courts following a Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A Romanian group is linked to travellers in Ireland in a scam of staging car crashes to mount fraudulent personal injury claims, a judge has stated.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said the people who gained from these profit-making criminal activities were paying Roma drivers for crashing their cars into other vehicles.

Barrister Conor Kearney, counsel for Aviva Insurance Ltd, told the Circuit Civil Court the company was challenging 79 outstanding claims, 60pc of which were around Galway, and would be alleging they had been fraudulently staged or had never taken place.

After throwing out two €38,000 claims by former Galwegian brothers Martin and John Gerard Corcoran, now living in a London halting site, Judge Groarke said a vast amount of research by Aviva, into geographical and inter-associate and family connectivity, had confirmed the scam.

He told barrister Moira Flahive, who also appeared with Mr Kearney and solicitor Alan Synnott for Aviva, that the evidence of fraud they had produced was utterly compelling.  He said the highest standard of proof that could be provided to a judge had been put before the court in the case.

Ms Flahive told the court there were a number of outstanding claims involving Axa Insurance.

Judge Groarke said that from the evidence it was an inescapable conclusion there was liaison between members of the Irish traveller and Roma communities to set up staged accidents and claims to defraud insurance companies.

The judge described Romanian Neagu Alexandru, found to have driven his Honda Civic into the back of the Ford Galaxy people carrier in which the Corcoran brothers and five of their cousins were travelling, as “a crook.”

It was an extraordinary state of affairs that so many involved in so many accidents should have similar descriptions, addresses, locations and country of origin and were residing, but not exclusively, in Galway.

He said, from his work in the West of Ireland, he recognised that the names of people involved were traveller family names from around Galway.  Neagu Alexandru, “a man experienced in fraudulent activities,”  had switched his insurance policy on a JCB digger on to his Honda Civic for a few days and then back again following the collision.

Judge Groarke told Mr Kearney and Ms Flahive there was no damage whatsoever on the Galaxy which was consistent with the damage to the Honda and he concluded Mr Neagu was up to his usual criminal activity.

Aviva’s research confirmed direct connections between the Corcorans and other claimants who lived close to them in Lynton Close halting site in London.  The investigation raised a considerable question mark over the veracity of evidence given by the Corcorans and he believed they were well aware of what had been taking place and were a party to the attempted fraud.

The court had heard that the crash had occurred at a roundabout near Blanchardstown in July 2012 and that seven claims had been made by occupants of the Corcoran vehicle.  Aviva’s legal costs were directed to be paid by the Corcoran brothers.

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