Sunderland £900,000 fraud accused ‘too poor’ to attend court

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A FRIDGE engineer accused of fraudulently trying to claim almost £900,000 over a work accident failed to attend his hearing because he ‘doesn’t have enough money’.

David Ribchester, of Cricklewood Road, in Hylton Castle, Sunderland, injured both wrists after falling off a ladder while working for a company in Newcastle in 2006.

The 31-year-old is accused of later exaggerating the extent of his injuries between February, 9, 2006, and January 12 last year.

He was due to be sent to crown court for trial last week, but magistrates’ could not continue with the hearing because Ribchester is apparently penniless.

Prosecutor Varinder Hayre read a letter from his representatives which said: “Unfortunately the defendant is unable to attend because he has no money to travel.

“We are also aware there is already a covering of snow with it due to get worse.

“We would be content with a committal without consideration of the evidence.”

But under court rules, the bench at City of London Magistrates’ Court could not send him for trial in his absence.

The hearing was adjourned until January 24.

Chairman of the bench Peter Craine said: “We are unable to proceed with a committal in the defendant’s absence.

“The hearing will be adjourned until 2pm on January 24 in this courthouse.”

At a hearing on November 22, the court heard he put in a personal injury claim to the value of £923,165.

The identity of his former employer has not been revealed.

Ribchester has not yet entered a plea to a single count of attempting to obtain property by deception.