A Scunthorpe area man has been jailed for dishonestly claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages following a minor crash.

Sean Batley, 54, of High Street, Crowle was jailed for seven months at The High Court in London after AXA Insurance prosecuted him for making the dishonest claim.

It followed a crash on March 21, 2013 on Grange Lane North in Scunthorpe when Mr Batley was a passenger in a Vauxhall Vectra.

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He had just been released from prison nine days before following a sentence at Grimsby Crown Court of six and a half years for sexual assault on teenage girls.

Batley admitted contempt of court by making the false claims for damages. He had initially sought £300,000 for his injuries, but that figure went up to include loss of earnings.

In February 2016 he claimed a traumatic brain injury of mild severity, migraines, post-concussive syndrome, injury to cervical discs, chronic pain syndrome and neuropathic pain in the left little finger.

London's High Court
London's High Court

He also claimed severe adjustment disorder and depression and a soft tissue injury to his neck and contusion to his head.

In March 2018, a further application was made for £571,418, to include loss of earnings and future loss of earnings.

The court hearing in London, before Judge Rosalind Coe QC, heard he had previously worked for 2 Sisters Food Group and with A&P Land Rover.

Sean Batley jailed for contempt of court
Sean Batley was jailed for contempt of court

Batley also told how he returned to work in 2015 when he commenced self-employment in setting up a window cleaning business known as Eco Pro Clean.

He had claimed he had been in continuous work as a machine operator at 2 Sisters Food Group between 2000 and 2013. But his criminal record showed he had been in prison between November 2008 and March 2013.

He admitted he had not disclosed his jail term to psychiatrists who wrote reports in support of his claim for damages. He said his window cleaning business failed because of his on-going injuries.

But the judge said that was dishonest.

The Royal Courts of Justice in London
The Royal Courts of Justice in London

Investigations by law firm Clyde & Co on behalf of insurer AXA revealed that 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. The failure of the business was also entirely unrelated to Batley’s health.

The judge said: "There is no doubt that he forged or caused to be forged documents to support his case and that remains a very serious matter. The number of customers he in fact had is not as significant as the fact that he deliberately averred that the business failed."

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The judge accepted the collision had happened and there had been injuries, but it was a minor collision.

Judge Coe QC said: "Mr Batley’s admitted conduct and actions amount to a serious contempt of court and that has not been challenged before me."

The judge added: "I have reached the conclusion that Mr Batley’s conduct is so serious that there must be and can only be an immediate sentence of imprisonment. Deterrence is an important factor in cases of this kind. Mr Batley instigated the damages claim himself and, in those circumstances, this must be an immediate custodial term." He was jailed for seven months.

Damian Rourke, a partner at Clyde and Co who led the investigation into Batley, 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.”

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