Disqualified driver who fraudulently cashed in on insurance after crash is jailed
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A disqualified driver who crashed and overturned his car – then fraudulently claimed thousands of pounds in insurance – has been jailed.
Police responded to a collision on the evening of 27 August, where a Volvo XC70 was discovered upside down in a field off Downs Road, Lavant.
There was no sign of anyone in the vehicle or nearby, so officers carried out an extensive search of the area, concerned that any occupants involved may be injured.
Following enquiries, the driver was later located at an address in the area and identified as Matthew O’Neill, 44, of Pagham Close, Emsworth.
O’Neill was already serving a five-year disqualification having been convicted of drink-driving in October 2017 – his fifth conviction for such an offence.
He was subsequently served with a Notice of Intended Prosecution.
During the investigation into the collision, enquiries revealed the defendant had taken out three separate insurance policies with Direct Line during his period of disqualification, informing the company he held a full UK driving licence and had no motoring convictions.
He used his policy to fraudulently claim £7,460 for the above collision.
In the meantime, O’Neill was spotted by officers on patrol in Funtington on 13 November driving – again, while disqualified – a Renault Megane. He was arrested and taken into custody.
O’Neill was subsequently charged with two counts of driving while disqualified, fraud by false representation, and three counts of insurance policy fraud, and was remanded in custody.
He pleaded guilty to all offences and was further remanded in custody until sentencing at Portsmouth Crown Court on 11 December.
He was sentenced to a total of 24 months’ imprisonment and further disqualified from driving for five years.
Investigating officer, PC Tom Van Der Wee, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Over the past few years, O’Neill has shown a blatant disregard for the law, which is in place to protect the public. But his luck has run out and now he’ll spend this Christmas – and possibly even next Christmas – behind bars.
“A large amount of time and resources went into attempting to locate anyone potentially involved in the crash, which we now know was caused by a driver who should not have been behind the wheel in the first place.
“This consisted of officers from numerous divisions – including the Roads Policing Unit, Dog Unit, Neighbourhood Response Team and Neighbourhood Policing Team – which was ultimately a waste of everyone’s time, as O’Neill had already fled the scene.
“We will continue to carry out proactive patrols and respond to incidents on our roads, as we strive to keep everyone safe and crack down on those who commit offences.”
Mike Brown, Head of Counter Fraud Intelligence at Direct Line, said: “Direct Line Group are committed to working together with the police on their investigations to help protect innocent customers from the impacts of insurance fraud. Those who mislead their insurers and effectively drive uninsured leave honest policy holders to pick up the bill.
“Hopefully this case sends out a strong message to those who believe it is acceptable to drive whilst disqualified and provide false information to insurers.”