A Royston man has been convicted of fraud by false representation after submitting a fake claim for damages to Herts County Council.

Derek Collings, 72, appeared at St Albans Crown Court for sentencing on Monday, March 20.

He had claimed to the council that while driving his daughter's Audi TT near Barley, he drove through a pothole causing damage to the rear suspension of the vehicle.

Collings then made a claim for £2,073.54 in damages and repair costs.

After council staff became suspicious of the claim it was referred to the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS).

An investigation revealed that a document Collings claimed to be from an Audi dealership listing parts and labour was in fact created by Collings himself.

Collings had also discussed making a claim against the council, telling a witness that the vehicle had been overloaded with building materials at the time.

He pleaded not guilty at a hearing in September 2020, but during the trial on January 13 was found guilty by a jury - after an expert witness explained the damage could not have been caused by a pothole.

Colings was sentenced to 10 months in custody, suspended for 18 months, was fined £1,000 and and ordered to pay the council's legal costs of £12,000.


Nick Jennings, head of the Shared Anti-Fraud Service at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "This case shows how thoroughly our Insurance Team deal with claims against the council and help to prevent fraud.  

"The sentence handed down by the court demonstrates the serious nature of the offence committed by Mr Collings and my thanks go to the judge and my colleagues, in both SAFS and the Councils Litigation Team, who investigated this matter.

"This sentence should send a clear warning to others who seek to defraud the taxpayer, if you submit a false claim it can leave you substantially out of pocket."