A conwoman who tried to claim for non-existent injuries after 'tripping' over a crate of juice cartons in a West Yorkshire supermarket has avoided jail - after CCTV showed it was placed there deliberately.
Farida Ashraf from Dewsbury hoped her £3000 injury claim would payout after she stumbled over the box of orange juice cartons left on the floor of the Al-Halal supermarket in the Lidgett Green area of Bradford.
But CCTV footage from inside the store caught her and two other women strategically moving the pack there themselves so she could stage the fall.
Ashraf, 41, claimed she fell and injured her shoulder, shin, calf and hip after tripping back in February 2013, and hoped her claim would be handled without question. Instead, video from inside the shop showed her stumbling on the carton without even falling to the floor, and pretending to limp off unaided. What followed was a six-year legal battle costing tens of thousands of pounds.
The 41-year-old mother pleaded guilty at Bradford Court and was today (Tuesday) handed a suspended sentence after a judge was shown CCTV of her and two unidentified accomplices placing the carton in the aisle while Ashraf had her back turned. One of the women was even seen taking a photo of the juice just beforehand.
The court heard how Ashraf did not contact solicitors for nearly nine months after she allegedly 'tripped' over the box. Prosecutor Nicholas Lumley QC told the court she had hoped in this time memories would have faded and the CCTV would have been erased.
But unbeknownst to Ashraf, a suspicious member of staff had hung on to the footage, which exposed the entire incident to be a scam.
An extensive inquiry by insurance company Aviva led to a civil court judge ruling in December 2016 that her claim was “fundamentally dishonest”. Aviva chose to pursue their own private prosecution against Ashraf after police and the Crown Prosecution Service declined.
Ashraf, of Staincliffe Crescent, admitted to a charge of fraud on the day of trial last month.
The court heard that Ashraf’s bogus claim had led to staff at the store having the finger pointed at them, and she even tried to blame her respected solicitors for instigating the claim without her permission.
Judge David Hatton QC said the scam had been “premeditated and planned”, adding:”You no doubt anticipated that the insurance company of the supermarket would pay up with little or no questions. Happily they did not.”
After reading “voluminous” documentation about Ashraf’s own health difficulties and her caring role for her mother, sister and daughter Judge Hatton said her 21 month jail term could be suspended for two years.
She will also have to comply with a night-time electronically-monitored curfew between 9pm and 6am for the next six months.