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Conman jailed over fake injury compensation claims

A fraudster was jailed today for trying to claim compensation from a number of local councils for injuries he had never suffered.

Nathan Williams said he had tripped and fallen on the pavement in streets across eight London boroughs.

Prosecutors estimated that if his claims had been successful they would have netted him more than £20,000 - and would have cost the local authorities more than £100,000.

Williams claimed he had suffered injuries in Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Westminster, Wandsworth, Tower Hamlets and Southwark between 2007 and 2008.

The 38-year-old used the fictional accidents to make a string of personal injury claims against the local authorities and Transport for London (TfL), which has responsibility for red routes.

He obtained £2,800 for a separate claim of a similar nature made against a private company, Southwark Crown Court in London was told.

Williams, who has seven previous convictions and no fixed address, pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

He was given a 15-month sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, and was told he must serve at least half of this time in prison.

The fraud came to light when an investigator noticed that three or four claims had been made by the same person, prosecutor Tim Banks told the court.

Unemployed Williams was arrested last November and his computer was seized.

On it were various files marked "projects".

Mr Banks said: "A certain amount of planning went into this. The claims were accompanied by photos of the pavement that was damaged and in some cases there was a witness, which the Crown says was fictitious."

The cost of investigating the fraud amounted to more than £30,000, he added.

Judge Christopher Hardy described Williams' behaviour as "a carefully planned course of dishonest conduct".

He said: "Local authorities would have lost a large amount of money, which would have fallen on the council taxpayers for those boroughs and on the travelling public for TfL."

Passing sentence, he told Williams: "These are serious offences because this was a sustained and determined campaign on your part to make false claims against London boroughs and TfL for alleged personal injuries which you had never suffered.

"It seems to me a custodial sentence is called for, not only as punishment but as a deterrent to other people who may be tempted to make false claims against local authorities."

Defence barrister Lewis Green said his client, who was believed to be suffering from a personality disorder, did not intend to use any money obtained to fund a lavish lifestyle.

He said: "He says he felt compelled to undertake these offences because he learnt his landlord was in trouble with his mortgage company and Mr Williams felt he would in some way be able to assist in that he's topping up the money that was being paid in housing benefit to his landlord.

"He was not expecting to lead a high life as a result of this. He was intending to help someone out."

No money had been paid out by the local authorities or TfL because, he said, the insurance companies "smelt a rat" before it reached that stage.