Sunderland fraudster caught playing rugby while chasing £923k injury claim begins jail sentence

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CAUGHT-ON-CAMERA fraudster David Ribchester is behind bars today for trying to claim £923,000 after a work accident.

Ribchester, of John F Kennedy Estate in Washington, claimed he could not carry out the most basic of tasks, or even tie his shoelaces, when he injured his wrists after a ladder gave way from underneath him.

David Ribchester, 31 John F Kennedy estate, Washington, Tyne and Wear, arrives at the Old Bailey in the City of London, to be sentenced

David Ribchester, 31 John F Kennedy estate, Washington, Tyne and Wear, arrives at the Old Bailey in the City of London, to be sentenced

But the Old Bailey was told the 31-year-old was secretly filmed at Washington RFC where he was “seen to grab the ball with both hands and go into a hard tackle.”

Ribchester pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation last month.

Putting him behind bars for eight months yesterday, Judge Nicholas Cooke told him: “It is greed that has brought you to this and, unfortunately, there is a lot of greed out there.

“Genuinely injured people putting forward wholly honest claims are viewed sceptically because of the publicity in relation to this sort of matter.

“Anyone who is tempted to behave in a dishonest way to the extent that you did, by attempting to exploit a system which exists to compensate the genuinely injured, will end up going to prison.”

The court heard Ribchester told doctors he needed help getting in and out of the bath, and that he could not open jars, carry out housework, play the drums or drive his car.

He also conned psychiatrists into thinking he was emotionally scarred by the accident, and was diagnosed with moderate post-traumatic stress disorder and with showing features of a major depressive disorder.

He even told them he felt like he was not a proper father as he could not pick his young daughter up.

But insurers began to suspect him after his injuries seemed to be getting worse over time, and referred him to their in-house counter fraud team who carried out surveillance.

Between February 2008 and October 2009, Ribchester, who also lived at Cricklewood Road, Hylton Castle, was filmed driving his car, carrying his daughter, putting up garden furniture, pushing a trolley, and loading and unloading heavy shopping bags.

The court heard Ribchester had genuinely injured soft tissue to his wrists after he fell about 5ft when a ladder came away from a refrigerated HGV lorry, owned by Schmitz Cargobull in Durham.

In March 2006, company bosses got a letter alleging negligence on their part for their failure to ensure the ladder was properly fixed to the trailer, written by his sister, Andrea Ribchester, a qualified personal insurance solicitor, although the court heard there was no suggestion she had committed any wrongdoing.

An investigation was carried out, concluding an admission of liability for the accident by Schmitz Cargobull.

But the court heard that nothing was heard by the insurers from the defendant or his sister for more than eight months, and then in September 2007, they received a letter which, for the first time, described Ribchester as having suffered from “significant physical injuries”.

The letter, from Paul D’Ambrogio Solicitors, who Mrs Ribchester was by this time working for, also claimed the defendant had been “adversely psychologically affected by the injuries upon his life and the ongoing pain from which he is suffering.”

Prosecutor James Byrne said the insurance company began to become suspicious at Ribchester’s seemingly worsening symptoms, and also by the fact that his sister appeared to be running the claim on his behalf, and secret surveillance was carried out.

The insurers, RSA Group Insurance Company, also arranged for a doctor to assess Ribchester, who said he had “have never come across a case of complex regional pain syndrome which has allegedly developed in this way.” He went on: “If it is due to an accident, it occurs within a few weeks following trauma, it does not simply occur many months later.”

Mr Byrne said Ribchester’s claims were then laid out, which included £24,175 for childcare and £19,382 for future childcare, while he expected £321,901 for future nursing costs for himself, along with £89,253 future expenses.

He later settled for £50,000.