Prison for cyclist who made fraudulent pothole injury claim

Cyclist-who-made-fraudulent-pothole-injury-claim-jailed

Luboya Tshibangu, 38, of Cardiff has been sentenced to three years and six months at Cardiff Crown Court for fraud by false representation

Tshibangu claimed he was on his bicycle when the front wheel hit a pothole in the pavement causing him to fall from the bicycle and suffer a broken right ankle

Tshibangu attempted, unsuccessfully, to make a claim of £175,000 for his injury and falsely blame Cardiff Council

On Wednesday 6th June 2018 - Luboya Tshibangu, was sentenced to three years and six months at Cardiff Crown Court for fraud by false representation after he tried to make a false insurance claim against his Cardiff Council for a cycling injury.

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) was referred the case in March 2017 by Cardiff Council’s insurance company referring to an offence that occurred between 16th December 2012 and 14th March 2017.

In April 2016, the Council’s insurance company was notified of a personal injury claim being made by Tshibangu against Cardiff Council. Tshibangu claimed he was cycling along Bute East Dock in Cardiff on 16 December 2012, when the front wheel hit a pothole in the pavement causing him to fall from the bike and suffer a broken right ankle.

The initial claim was made in October 2013 and was accompanied by a map showing where the accident was said to have taken place, plus photographs of various defects within the path. This claim was declined in May 2014 based on Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.  This Section allows the council to defend cases as long as there has been a reasonable schedule of maintenance and upkeep.

On 4th April 2016, Tshibangu’s solicitors served a claim form on Cardiff Council which showed his alleged earnings, a copy of his medical report plus images of the defect that Tshibangu alleged had caused him to fall from his bike. The value of the loss being claimed for was £175,000 due to loss of earnings and his injuries.

On 22nd December 2016, Tshibangu signed a statement providing a full account of the events surrounding the incident. In his statement Tshibangu stated the incident happened between lampposts 13 and 14 on Atlantic Wharf and provided photos of the bricked paved area running down the side of Bute East Dock.

Cardiff Council’s solicitors managed to obtain the 999 call made by a passer-by about Tshibangu’s injury. It was determined that the location of this injury was approximately 950 metres away from the location given by Tshibangu. The caller also stated that the floor was slippery where Tshibangu was riding his bike but did not mention a paving defect.

IFED determined that while Tshibangu had genuinely fallen from his bike, it had not happened at the location he had given and it had been as a result of the slippery pavement and not a pothole in the path. As a result, no money was paid out to Tshibangu.

In February 2017, Cardiff Council’s solicitors amended their defence to plead fraud and the case was subsequently passed to IFED.

Tshibangu was voluntarily interviewed by IFED officers at Cardiff Bay Police Station on 6 July 2017.

Detective Constable Justin Hawes of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) said: “Tshibangu used a genuine injury in an attempt to lay blame with the council. This blatant attempt at deception was spotted and the work of IFED with the council and its legal team has enabled us to put a stop to Tshibangu’s crime.

“Legitimate injuries should never be seen as an excuse to misplace blame or inflate circumstances in a bid to make money. False insurance claims increase the costs for all insurance holders by driving up premiums. The result here shows that IFED takes these crimes very seriously and will put a stop to them.”

Councillor Chris Weaver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance at Cardiff Council said: “This is a case where someone has sadly had an accident and hurt themselves and tried to lay blame on the council illegally. Fraud is a serious offence and I hope this case sends a clear message that these matters are investigated and if false claims are made, we will work with the relevant authorities to bring these matters to court.”