Paul Gustar’s three-year sentence for fraud was suspended because of wife’s “fragile state of mind”

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A man who attempted to claim £100,000 in a personal injury case has been given a suspended sentence, after AXA pursued him in a private prosecution.

Paul Gustar dropped his fraudulent claim after suspicions were raised when a medical report uncovered a pre-existing back injury.

He claimed he had sustained injuries in 2007 from repetitive lifting and twisting during the period he worked for Steve Porter Transport.

But the investigation also uncovered a text message that suggested an alternative explanation that the injury was sustained whilst pushing his girlfriend’s car.

The High Court decided not to go after him for contempt, after the case was dropped, because the hearing would have taken up a disproportionate amount of its time.

In a statement today AXA said pursuing Gustar privately was “still a relatively rare route to pursue perpetrators” of insurance fraud.

Claims director Chris Voller said: “We didn’t take the decision to pursue a private prosecution lightly but it is increasingly important that collectively and individually, the industry does everything within its powers to combat fraud.

“Of course Gustar is just one example of the many thousands of individuals who attempt to defraud our industry every year, driving up the cost of everyone’s insurance, but I believe that the success of this prosecution should serve as a stark warning to anyone who considers attempting to defraud insurers.”

“The message is clear – whether it is through more traditional channels or via private prosecution, we have the means and the motivation to pursue and prosecute  fraudulent activity wherever we find it.”

Gustar was handed a three-year jail term suspended for two years at Truro Crown Court on Friday 24 October.

He would have been jailed but the judge said he was showing mercy “with considerable reservation” because Gustar’s wife had a “fragile state of mind” and relied heavily on him for her care.

Judge Clark said: “I want the message to go out – that it was appropriate and the insurers acted entirely properly in bringing this prosecution against you … you are a fortunate man. Leave with your wife. Next time I shall show no mercy.”

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