NEWS – “without comment”

Posted by: Ian (D. Withers)

Monday, Nov 27th 2023

Mark Hilton, 49, suffered a soft-tissue injury while working on a truck in 2015

An insurance firm placed him under surveillance over suspicions about his claim

Grandfather, 49, who tried to sue for £600,000 after claiming a work injury left him so disabled he couldn’t even pull up his underpants is jailed after being filmed doing his Christmas shopping

By Darren Boyle

22 November 2023

An ‘inept’ insurance fraudster who pretended he was so disabled he couldn’t even pull up his underpants has been jailed and faces a £150,000 court bill after being filmed doing his Christmas shopping.


Mark Hilton, 49, of Dartford, Kent, suffered soft tissue injuries when a heavy fuel hose fell on to him as he filled a tanker while working as a driver for Elliott Thomas Group Ltd in July 2015.


Suing for over £600,000 in compensation, the grandfather-of-six claimed the injury had left him so badly disabled he couldn’t even dress himself or lift a cup of tea with his right hand and needed a Zimmer frame to walk.


But his claim unravelled when private investigators caught him on film walking his dog, Christmas shopping in Ikea, fixing his car and visiting the West Ham store at Stratford.


Mr Hilton’s claim was thrown out of court by a judge and now, after he admitted contempt of court, he is facing a £150,000 bill and a ten-month jail sentence for his ‘false and grossly exaggerated’ claim


Sentencing and handing him the costs bill for the case at the High Court, Mr Justice Constable said: ‘This was a most calculated – if ineptly executed – attempt at defrauding insurers.’


The court heard Mr Hilton had sustained only ‘soft tissue’ injuries when, while filling a tanker at a depot in 2015, a giant fuel hose came loose and landed on him.


He initially lodged a ‘modest’ claim for compensation, but ultimately claimed more than £600,000 from his former employer’s insurers QBE UK Ltd.


In statements filed for his claim, Mr Hilton said he needed help getting dressed, could not drive, had to use a Zimmer frame to get about and claimed he could only walk about 20 yards due to his disability.


‘I cannot put my trousers or underpants up and I need help to get my right arm into sleeves,’ he said in his evidence.


‘For all intents and purposes I am housebound,’ he added.


The insurers initially admitted liability, but became suspicious of his claims and began an undercover surveillance operation against him over several years.


The High Court heard Hilton exaggerated the extent of his injuries and claimed he had suffered a significant disability, but an undercover surveillance team tasked by the insurance company filmed him walking and shopping without difficulty


Footage from 2016 showed him driving to a shop, walking in without a stick, working on his car for an extended period of time and then going to the West Ham United store in Stratford, the court heard.


In 2018, he was filmed walking his dog without any apparent mobility problems and, in December 2019, he was seen driving to Ikea, where he visited kitchen, lighting and Christmas departments.


The claim was ultimately struck out and Mr Hilton was hauled to the High Court to face accusations of contempt of court, accused of making ‘false’ statements to inflate his compensation claim.


Mr Hilton admitted the contempt, apologised for what he had done and appeared before Mr Justice Constable for sentencing in London last week.


Outlining the case for the insurer, QBE barrister Paul Higgins described Mr Hilton’s £600,000 compensation bid as a ‘very serious fundamental dishonesty case’.


In claiming he was so disabled he was effectively housebound and couldn’t even pull up his pants or walk very far, Mr Hilton had ‘grossly exaggerated’ his injuries.


‘He lied repeatedly to his then legal advisors, the experts, the court and QBE,’ he said.


Jailing him for ten months, Mr Justice Constable said Mr Hilton was guilty of a ‘very serious’ contempt of court.


‘By each act, he committed a very serious act of contempt of court,’ he said.


‘There was an extremely marked disparity between his real ability to carry out daily activities – which included working on his car, shopping, walking – and a very serious curtailment of his lifestyle and abilities, as described repeatedly in his witness statements and acted out in his attempts to mislead the medicolegal experts.


‘The most aggravating aspect of the contempt is the quantum of the claim – in excess of £600,000.


‘This was a most calculated, if ineptly executed, attempt at defrauding insurers.’


The judge took into account Mr Hilton’s mitigation, which included his apology to the court, previous good character and his bad health, having had mini strokes in the past.


‘I accept that the consequences of these proceedings have been sufficiently distressing to make it improbable he would act in any similar dishonest way again,’ he continued.


‘The shortest term of custody I can impose is a period of ten months’ imprisonment.’


The judge also made an order that Mr Hilton be liable for QBE’s costs of the case, which lawyers estimated at about £150,000.


However, the court heard Mr Hilton will not have the funds to pay.



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