Monday, April 23, 2012

'Injured' man to face fraud trial

Senior judges are set to decide whether an aircraft technician from Cheshire filmed carrying out "arduous building and DIY activities" after claiming that an accident at work left him badly disabled attempted to pervert the course of justice and was in contempt of court.

Adam Roberts, 32, of Neston, could be jailed if judges conclude that his damages claim - made after he said he "slipped on debris" while working at Airbus - was fraudulent.

Two judges have given Airbus and insurance firm QBE permission to bring contempt proceedings against Mr Roberts following a High Court hearing in London. They were told that when confronted with footage taken by inquiry agents, Mr Roberts' "reaction was, in effect, to abandon his claim".

Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Burnett concluded that there was a strong prima facie case that Mr Roberts' claim was "to a substantial degree fraudulent" and said it was in the public interest that a trial should take place.

Lawyers say judges are likely to consider at a High Court trial in London later this year whether Mr Roberts tried to pervert the course of justice and was in contempt. If found to be in contempt, he could be sent to prison for up to two years or fined.

Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Burnett heard that Mr Roberts, of Hawkins Road, Neston, told Airbus that he had "sustained an injury at work which involved slipping on debris" in October 2007.

Lawyers for Airbus and QBE Insurance said Mr Roberts claimed damages for loss of earnings, care and support, equipment, adaptations to property, and medication and treatment.

Solicitor David Evans told the court that Mr Roberts claimed he could "only walk short distances and used crutches"; stayed in his room most of the day; had pain across his lower back which radiated down a leg; his wife had to get him in and out of bed, dress his lower half and put on his trousers, socks and shoes and help him with the shower; and he "undertook no household activities whatsoever".

Mr Evans said Mr Roberts "presented himself with a walking stick, moving with discomfort". The two judges were told that insurers suspected Mr Roberts was malingering and had him watched by inquiry agents who recorded his activities. He was seen clearing out a house and carrying baths, the court heard.

Mr Evans, of Liverpool-based law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer, said in a written witness statement: "He was engaged in extensive, vigorous and highly physical work which was wholly incompatible with the assertions of pain and disability he made in his claim. In particular, the defendant was recorded as carrying out arduous building and/or DIY activities."

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