UK & World News
'Crash For Cash': Men Jailed For Fatal Scam
Members of a Polish gang who staged a "crash-for-cash" insurance scam that led to the death of a motorist have been jailed for up to 10 years and three months.
The deliberate crash in June 2011 caused another collision that killed 34-year-old Baljinder Kaur Gill.
The case was the first fatal crash-for-cash accident to be recorded in Britain.
Radoslaw Bielawski, Jacek Kowalczyk, Andrzez Skowron and Artur Okrutny were sentenced for the attempted fraud in which a Volkswagen Passat and an Audi A3 were to be crashed into a Ford Transit van in order to claim personal injury compensation.
Miss Gill's Ford Fiesta was hit by one of the vehicles used in the £20,000 insurance scam and left stranded in the fast lane of the A40 in Buckinghamshire.
She died when her car was then hit again by a van that was not involved in the scam.
Passing sentence, judge Mr Justice Sweeney said: "This is the first such enterprise to result in a death to come before the courts.
"No sentence can possibly reflect the value of Miss Gill's life."
He added: "It is clear that Miss Gill's death has had, and continues to have an absolutely devastating effect on her family, especially her mother and brother, who close afterwards suffered the loss of her other brother to cancer.
"A case such as this requires the court to show deterrence is one of the purposes of sentencing."
Ringleaders Bielawski, 24, from Rosewood Avenue, Greenford, and Kowalczyk, 32, from Fraser Road, Perivale, were each jailed for 10 years and three months for conspiracy to commit fraud, causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice.
Skowron, 25, from Shelley Gardens in Wembley, was jailed for ten years for conspiracy to commit fraud and causing death by dangerous driving.
Artur Okrutny, 23, from Briar Road, London, was not present at the crashes but was jailed for 12 months for conspiring to pervert the course of justice by providing false driver details after the crash and making a false statement to police about what happened.
Colin Lee, aged 34, from York Place, Aylesbury, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving and jailed for 12 months. Lee was the driver of the van that fatally collided with the victim's car.
Miss Gill's family said in a statement released after the hearing that justice had been done.
"Our family will never recover from this tragic event which took the life of our beautiful daughter, sister and truly loved member of our family from us.
"We are relieved that after such a lengthy trial that justice has at last been served today," the statement went on to say.
"As a united family we hope that the result of these court proceedings will prevent any other innocent person being killed or injured on the road through the greed of others."
Figures from the Insurance Fraud Bureau show such scams cost the motor industry £392m very year.
The four men had all arrived from Poland within the last ten years and were working full-time but received no benefits, their lawyers said.
They said their clients were sorry about Miss Gill's death, but insisted it was the subsequent collision that caused the fatal impact.