A couple who tried to con up to £20,000 from their holiday firm with a fake sickness claim have been ordered to pay Jet2holidays just short of £30,000.
Martin and Lindsey Brown from Chorley in Lancashire, submitted a false claim against Jet2holidays for gastric illness, after staying at the Emre Hotel in Marmaris, Turkey, in 2016.
Martin, 38, and his 35-year-old wife, said they suffered with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as a result of food poisoning contracted whilst on an all-inclusive 10-night holiday.
Facebook photos show the pair enjoying evenings out, on one occasion posing with a parrot
They claimed they were bed-bound and had soiled themselves in bed, while their children had done so in the pool.
But the hotel owners used CCTV to compile a dossier of evidence – including Mr Brown dancing by the pool – after they were tipped off by another guest Mr Brown had bragged about how he would make a claim.
Another guest posted on social media about how the pair were in the bar until ‘daft o clock’.
During a hearing this week at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, staff and the doctor from Emre Hotel rejected their claims and fined them £29,200, in damages and legal fees.
Judge Sephton QC convicted the Browns of conspiracy to commit fraud, saying ‘They sought to benefit by their wrong-doing in a thoroughly dishonest fashion.
He added: ‘Dishonest claims are a scourge which are blighting these courts.’
The judge also found that ‘the representations made by their solicitors were dishonest.’
The pair claimed their illness was caused by negligence, and resulted in them being bed-ridden and prescribed medication after a visit to the hotel doctor.
They stated that Martin Brown had bragged about how he planned to fabricate a false sickness claim to win compensation, and how he had done it before.
CCTV evidence from the Emre Hotel shows Martin Brown and his wife dancing by the pool
During their holiday, the Browns complained to the hotel that they were suffering from stomach upsets and the hotel referred Mr Brown to a local hospital doctor.
But a witness statement from another holidaymaker said it was all a plan.
Video evidence showed the couple walking out of the hotel with their two children on the days they were allegedly bedridden.
At the hearing, social media posts from the pair were used against them.
A Facebook post from a holidaymaker who stayed at the hotel at the same time as the Browns, stated that Martin Brown was not ill and was in a bar until ‘daft o clock’.
When back in the UK from Turkey the couple launched a £20,000 compensation claim
The hotel owner examined CCTV footage whilst the couple were still staying at the hotel with their young children and saved images of the man frolicking and dancing by the pool.
Hotel owner Emre Deliveli said: ‘We were told by another guest that Mr Brown had mentioned he was going to make a sickness claim, so we made sure each evening that we had recorded footage that might help our defence.
‘We put him under surveillance, so when the complaint came we had the CCTV footage ready. We had him running around, by the pool, dancing.’
In one piece of footage, recorded on May 30 last year, Mr Brown can be seen dancing, before jumping in the pool. He was also recorded setting off for a boat excursion.
On June 2, Mr Brown allegedly told a local doctor that he had started feeling nauseous three days previously. This would include the day the poolside video was taken.
Photos posted on Mr Brown’s Facebook account after he returned home showed him and his wife enjoying an evening on holiday with no mention of the illness.
One picture showed a smiling Mr Brown posing with a parrot on his shoulder alongside his wife. The photos were captioned: ‘Back home top holiday wish I was still there with **** and the rest bangin time roll on next year.’
There was a 500% increase in gastric sickness claims made by Britons between 2013 and 2016, prompting some hoteliers to warn that they would withdraw holidays from the UK market.
In April this year, the Ministry of Justice announced the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs to cover holiday sickness claims brought under the Package Travel Regulations, making defence costs predictable and thus deterring bogus claims.
In October, four people were sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, after admitting to concocting a fake claim.
Michael Jameson, 43, Claire Weir, 35, Jane Weir, 38, Janet Weir, 63, all from Liverpool, were convicted of contempt of court at Liverpool High Court after inventing and submitting a false claim against Jet2holidays.
They frolic and cavort amount in a way that doesn’t indicate that they’re at all sick
In June, Liam Royle from Eccles in Manchester was found fundamentally dishonest and ordered to pay Jet2holidays more than £6,000, after his ex-girlfriend presented evidence, including video footage of him dancing to Gangnam Style by the swimming pool, to prove that his compensation claim for gastric illness was fraudulent.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘Martin and Lindsey Brown travelled to Turkey having already worked out how to make a fraudulent sickness claim, but thanks to our robust investigation their deception has been uncovered. Jet2holidays has led the way to tackle the issue of false sickness claims so that holidaymakers do not expose themselves to the risks that come with getting involved in such dishonest activity, and we hope this ruling sends out a serious message to others.
‘That message is clear, we will investigate and defend any claims that we believe are dishonest, and the courts do not just take a dim view of such deceit, they are prepared to punish it accordingly.’