Sedgwick investigation finds the woman set fire to her own pub for the insurance payout

A landlady has been found guilty of arson and insurance fraud after setting her own pub on fire.

Sedgwick, in partnership with a host of insurers, investigated a claim made by Donna Tracey, 46, from Flintshire in Wales.

She said she left the public part of The Rake and Pikel in Huntingdon shortly after it closed at 1am on 29 April 2017. She said she went upstairs to her flat then went to bed.

She then claims to have been woken up at around 5am by her dog barking and the smell of smoke. She then evacuated the pub and alerted a neighbour to the fire, who then called the emergency services.

When making her claim, she said she had suffered significant financial loss, from the destroyed pub contents, disruption of business and her personal household contents, all of which were covered on her policy.

She emphasised that no one was allowed to smoke on the premises and believed that an electrical fault in the refrigerator behind the bar was the cause of the fire.

Sedgwick decided to investigate the claim after no electrical fault was found and evidence of financial stress was discovered.

Sedgwick’s investigations team collected incriminating CCTV footage of Tracey lighting a cigarette, using it to set a napkin on fire and dropping it into the bin behind the bar. See the video below, courtesy of Chester Police.

When presented with the footage, Tracey admitted to setting the place alight and pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation on 10 September 2018 at Chester Crown Court.

She was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison.

Mike Cossins, senior investigator at Sedgwick said: “We were instructed by Insurers to carry out detailed investigations into the matter and reported our findings to the insurer together with enquiries that had revealed the full extent of Tracey’s financial distress.

“This sentencing sends a clear message to fraudsters that if they are committing fraud, the risk of being caught and prosecuted is very real. We are committed to work together with insurers and their professional advisers to address the threat of fraudulent claims.”

Steve Crystal, head of financial crime at Sedgwick commented: “The court’s decision shows a firm stance against those attempting to defraud their insurers.

”Following the completion of investigations, it appeared Donna Tracey’s actions were deliberate, and she admitted this when challenged. Insurance fraud is a major issue and it was encouraging to see the court seeing it this way too.”