During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this morning, Judge Graham Robinson sentenced 35-year-old Benjamin Grix to four months in prison after he admitted to contempt of court for signing documents with a statement of truth, when he knew the information he was providing was false.
Sheffield Crown Court was told how Grix, of no fixed abode, attempted to sue Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council for £10,000, claiming he injured his knee on September 28, 2013 when his foot went into a hole in the pavement caused by a missing water box.
After receiving the local authority received the compensation claim on September 15 last year, Judge Robinson told the court how their insurers regarded Grix to be a 'suspicious' claimant and gave the case to their investigators.
Judge Robinson told the court how Grix posted about the true cause of his knee injury - through a game of football - on more than one occasion.
On September 26, 2013, two days before the day he claimed he injured his knee on a pothole, Grix posted: "Football career already over, Adam Naylor double tackled me."
Grix then went into more detail about the knee injury he suffered as a result of the tackle.
On September 28, 2013 Grix posted again saying: "Thinking about going to A&E for my knee, but can't be doing with the wait."
And when a friend replied to the post and asked how he injured himself, Grix replied saying: "Football match last week."
When the Facebook posts were highlighted in the council’s defence, Grix swiftly withdrew his claim but the council was granted permission to bring proceedings against Mr Grix for contempt of court.
At a hearing in the High Court on August 25 this year Grix admitted that the claim was fraudulent.
In passing sentence, Judge Robinson said that Mr Grix had told deliberate lies in an attempt to secure compensation and such fraudulent claims cost the insurance industry large sums of money every year.
He said: "The system of civil justice is so seriously damaged by this that people who make fraudulent claims must expect to be sent to prison”.
Cllr Joe Blackham, Cabinet Member for Highways, Street Scene and Traded Services at Doncaster Council said of Grix's conviction: “Doncaster Council adopts a zero-tolerance approach to fraudulent claims. As this case demonstrates, the council’s insurance team will take all appropriate steps to investigate and pursue suspected fraud in order to ensure that public funds are protected”.
Peter Wake, Head of Local Government Claims at Weightmans and the solicitor for Doncaster MBC in this case said:
“This is another important case for one of our local authority clients. It is vital that contempt cases such as this one are pursued as it is the only way to deter fraudsters and protect the public purse”.