Anthony Dermody, a former employee of Network Rail was today sentenced to three months in prison after he was found guilty of contempt of court. Dermody exaggerated the extent of an injury he sustained at work and attempted to claim over £300,000 from his employer.
QBE and its policyholder, Network Rail made several attempts to settle the original claim, presenting Dermody with an offer for the genuine injury he sustained to his thumb whilst at work in 2011. Dermody failed to settle and instead instructed lawyers to claim over £300,000 on the basis that his life had been badly affected by his injury and he was no longer able to work. The High Court heard that he was "very seriously disabled" and he could not do any of the activities he enjoyed before the accident. His mother, Anne Marie Dermody, provided a full witness statement in support of her son’s claim.
Unconvinced by his claim, QBE and Network Rail instructed BLM to undertake further investigations which showed that Dermody was scheduled to play at various locations in a tribute band. Surveillance footage showed Dermody playing guitar in tribute band Guns ‘or’ Roses and touring with the band around the UK and Europe in the months and years following his accident at work. He discontinued his claim when faced with the evidence.
In August this year Mr Justice Edis granted permission for BLM to press ahead with contempt proceedings on behalf of Network Rail and QBE, against both Dermody and his mother. Today’s hearing took place at Manchester High Court.
In court today His Honour Judge Main QC made it clear that Dermody's actions were more serious than any anti-social behaviour. He referred to the case of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service v Smith and the finding of Moses LJ: "...however easy it is to make false claims, either in relation to liability or in relation to compensation, if found out the consequences for those tempted to do so will be disastrous." He acknowledged that the result of this type of behaviour forces genuine claimants to jump through hurdles to satisfy their claims and concluded by saying "the problem is you have succumbed to the temptation of over-egging the pudding."
Clare Garnett, partner at BLM was instructed by QBE for Network Rail. She said: “Today’s decision sends an important message. Dermody was a member of a heavy metal band, regularly playing bass, even after sustaining his thumb injury, which he claimed to have affected his life considerably. This was clearly an obvious attempt to exaggerate the impact of his injury in order to secure more damages from his employer. It would simply not have been right for Dermody to have escaped punishment for his actions. The court has made the right decision today.”
Mike East, Claims Director at QBE, commented: “This is a great result for what has been a tireless pursuit of justice that has lasted a number of years. We want to pay legitimate claims as quickly as possible so that all those affected by accident or injury can move on with their lives. Criminals like Antony Dermody seriously hamper this process, taking focus away from genuine claimants and ultimately costing us all more in our insurance premiums each year.”