Footballer jailed over injury lies in claim for £1.3m

An amateur footballer has been jailed for a year for trying to swindle a £1.35m insurance payout for injuries he received in a car crash, despite his being fit enough to turn out for his local club.

James Shikell, 31, was a passenger in a car accident in 2002 and three years later was awarded a personal injury claim by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).

Shikell, a midfielder who has played nine games for Doncaster side Edlington Rangers this season, claimed in December 2005 he suffered memory loss, severe fatigue, poor co-ordination and an aching neck and ankles.

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As part of his claim he had already received £30,000, which the MIB said he was entitled to for his injuries, but he then began pursuing the claim for £1.35m in the High Court.

In a witness statement, Shikell had said: ”I am deeply saddened that as a result of the injuries I sustained in the accident I am no longer able to play football.

“I still love football and not to be able to play as I did before is very depressing for me.”

A court heard that Shikell was claiming substantial amounts for loss of earnings, care costs and accommodation.

He was found out in 2008, however, when investigators filmed him playing a game and then discovered he had played every match that season.

Shikell, of Ormsby Close, Balby, Doncaster, was jailed for 12 months for contempt of court.

His father, Robert Shikell, also of Ormsby Close, Balby, received a year’s imprisonment for supporting his son’s claim.

A third man, Simon Fennell, was fined for providing a false statement in the personal injury claim.

Judge Penelope Belcher, sitting at Leeds Combined Court, found Shikell guilty of 14 of the 16 counts against him.

She said she was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the only explanation for him telling the lie was to increase the likely award of damages in the personal injury claim.

“I recognise that it was down to this young man’s grit and determination, together with the love and support of his family, that he made such a good recovery from his injuries and their effects upon him and that he is now largely able to lead a normal existence.

“That is very much to his credit.”

But the judge added that did not alter the fact that he was willing to lie for the purposes of the legal proceedings. She said: “It is James Shikell’s case that his intention when he lied about his football activities was not deliberately to seek to increase the award of damages and he denies being motivated by greed.”

The judge also ordered that the Shikells should pay a substantial contribution to the MIB’s costs in bringing the case.

Elaine Chapman, a partner at law firm Weightmans who advised the Motor Insurers’ Bureau in the defence of the personal injury claim and in bringing the contempt of court claim, described the finding as a “landmark judgement”.

She added: “This sends a clear and resounding message that high value cases are no longer the no lose gamble for individuals making fraudulent claims.

“The custodial sentences imposed reflect the zero tolerance approach of the judiciary towards insurance fraud.”

The Motor Insurance Bureau describes itself as a “not-for-profit organisation funded through a levy on all motor insurance policies” which pays out to victims of uninsured drivers.

Its chief executive Ashton West said: “This custodial sentence will be a deterrent to those who seek to defraud MIB and therefore every insured driver in Britain.

“This was a significant amount of money that was fraudulently claimed and the fact that a custodial sentence was handed down reflects the seriousness of the offence.”

According to the MIB around four per cent of the 35 million vehicles on the roads are uninsured. Figures show that West Yorkshire is one of the worst places in the country for uninsured drivers.