TWO men who staged a crash involving a Cardiff Council refuse van have been told they are very lucky to have avoided a jail sentence.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that the two Barry men had staged a collision in Cardiff Bay on December, 4 2012 in order to make a fraudulent insurance claim of more than £9000.

Council employee Robert Morgan, 46, of Meggitt Road, Barry was driving the refuse lorry in Cardiff when at 2.45pm he rounded a corner on Harrison Road and crashed into the side of a BMW belonging to Simon Stratton, 45, of Brookfield Avenue, Barry.

Two weeks prior to this, Cardiff City Council had received an anonymous letter that said a refuse van was going to be driven into a BMW belonging to Stratton.

This was followed up by a phone call to the fraud hotline just two hours ahead of the crash warning of an imminent collision.

Prosecutor Matthew Cobb explained that an internal investigation was launched shortly afterwards by the council as well as a police inquiry.

Morgan was suspended from work and Stratton was informed by his insurance company that they would not be paying for the damages.

An assessment of the BMW showed that not all the damage present had been caused in the collision with the BMW.

Defending Stratton, Jonathan Rees explained that the two men, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, had not ultimately benefitted from the scam - rather Stratton had been forced to borrow money to pay for the damages himself.

Jonathan Lewis, defending Morgan, said that for the first time his client was relying on state benefits having lost his job.

The council calculated a loss of £904, due to the refuse truck being inactive during the investigation.

Sentencing both men to four months in jail, suspended for 12 months, Recorder Huw Rees told them they were lucky to not be heading to prison.

"Both of you are men of a mature age," he said. "With family and employment responsibilities.

"But both of you thought you could make a quick buck by making a false insurance claim.

"The evidence shows both of you must have had your heads in the clouds at the time and acted without thinking of the consequences.

"Both of you should understand that you came very close to going to prison."

He ordered both men to pay £452 compensation, £600 costs and an £80 surcharge. They will also have to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.