Brother and step-sister fraudsters foiled

BUSINESS: Chris Baker of Vans 2 Go Vehicle Hire (9150577)

BUSINESS: Chris Baker of Vans 2 Go Vehicle Hire (9150577)

First published in News by

A PAIR of fraudster step-siblings had an insurance scam foiled when a Barry business owner turned detective to uncover their plot.

Stephen Phillips, 62, and his step-sister Terrina Downes, 57, staged a crash between a hired van and a car, before trying to claim insurance money and faking whiplash.

The pair had their "extremely foolish" deception rumbled by Van2Go Vehicle hire's owner Chris Baker who was suspicious about the crash claims.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how, on January 9 this year, Phillips hired a van from Mr Baker's business on Woodham Road, Barry.

Phillips, 62, had used the company several times before and had requested to hire the van overnight to move furniture.

At 7.10pm that evening Mr Baker received a phone call from Downes, 57, of Glanfa Dafydd, Barry saying that she had been involved in a road traffic accident and that his van had hit her Peugeot 207 on Ffordd y Mileniwm.

When Mr Baker then contacted Phillips, he was told that he was "in shock" and had gone to Cardiff.

Unbeknownst to either of the pair, the van had been fitted with a tracker and Mr Baker could trace the van's movements since it left his business that day.

He found the vehicle parked outside Barry Halfords with a damaged front end and then traced its movements back to Glanfa Dafydd where he found a Peugeot 207 with a damaged back end.

Further investigation traced the van's movements to a secluded area of Woodham Road, where he found debris and his van's badge on the ground.

Putting these pieces together Mr Baker realised that this was where a crash had been staged.

Before the pair could be brought to justice Downes, a housing project manager, had made several medical appointments where she claimed to be "aching" after the crash and was even prescribed painkillers - something the prosecution at Cardiff Crown Court said was "clearly paving the way for some compensation".

When the police became involved it was revealed that the pair were related and although they initially stuck to their stories, their claims soon began to fall apart.

Court recorder Mr PK Lewis referred to the plot as an "extremely foolish enterprise" which Phillips was behind, having recruited Downes to assist him.

Before sentencing the pair, recorder Mr Lewis heard how Phillips had 25 convictions for 82 previous offences including three spells in prison for deception the last of which being for an attempted false insurance claim in 2003.

Phillips was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and to pay £1,000 compensation and Downes was ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and to pay £500 compensation.

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