‘Crash gang’ spared prison

A GANG who organised a car crash in a bid to make insurance claims worth thousands of pounds have narrowly escaped prison sentences.

Stuart Mackie, Gary Morton, Simon Hubble, Johnathan Miller and Andrew Dodds staged a smash in Peterlee so they could reap the benefits of an insurance policy by making personal injury claims.

A taxi driven by Morton went into the back of a car with Mackie behind the wheel in December 2009, leading to the men asking the cars’ insurers for £16,800, despite the “accident” being planned.

Mackie, 36, and Hubble, 27, had also made false claims with Steven Redhsaw and Adam Burey a year earlier in November 2008 when Hubble crashed into a woman’s car in Manor Way, Peterlee.

The crash is said to have been a genuine accident, but the personal injury and damage claims that followed totalled £9,645 and were flagged up as fraudulent by the insurance firm.

Prosecuting, Jolyon Perks told Teesside Crown Court: “These were false claims where people who had not been in the vehicles said they were, injuries were exaggerated or made up and the insurance companies noticed these anomalies.”

Mackie and Hubble pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and Redshaw, 36, Burey, 29, Morton, 28, Miller, 20, and Dodds, 27, all admitted one count.

Mackie also admitted four counts of fraud as he “clocked” cars by altering their mileages to make them look as if they had been used less than they really had before trying to sell them.

He had also pleaded guilty to concealing criminal property by trying to sell a Transit van that he suspected had been stolen.

Shaun Hanner, 30, who was not involved in the insurance claims, admitted concealing criminal property by also having a van that he suspected had been stolen.

All the offences are said to have happened between March 2009 and December 2009.

Judge Peter Armstrong said: “I assess these offences so serious that only custody can be justified, but I can suspend those sentences.”

Mackie, of Ingram Way, Wingate, was given nine months in prison, suspended for two years and 150-hours unpaid work.

Hubble, also of Ingram Way, was given six months suspended for two years with 150-hours unpaid work and was ordered to pay £500 costs.

Miller, of Alston Walk, Peterlee, Burey, of Davies Walk, Peterlee, Redshaw, of Manor Way, Peterlee, and Morton, of Mansell Crescent, Peterlee, and Dodds, of Stainton Way, Peterlee, were all given four months suspended for two years.

Miller, Burey, Morton and Dodds will also do 100-hours unpaid work. Burey was ordered to pay £200 costs and Morton £500.

Hanner, of Alder Road, Peterlee, was given a 12-month community order with 100-hours unpaid work and will pay costs of £250.