A couple have been given suspended prison sentences after being found guilty of making fraudulent holiday sickness claims.
Southern Derbyshire magistrates court heard how Leon Roberts, 37, and Jade Muzoka, 27, attempted to gain £50,000 from travel operator Tui after claiming to have fallen ill while on holiday at Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort and Spa in Turkey in July 2015. The couple submitted claims through their solicitor in April 2016 stating that they had both been struck down with food poisoning during their stay.
However, investigators found photographs on Facebook of Mr Roberts and Ms Muzoka enjoying their trip. While the couple, who have since split up, subsequently dropped their claim, Tui decided to prosecute after heading how a solicitor, a doctor and a claims management company had helped the defendants to prepare the “blatantly false” claim.
Tim Hunter, prosecuting for Tui UK & Ireland, said: “The holiday went ahead without incident with no complaints about any undue medical conditions. Their social media entries made it plain they’d had a good time.
“But in April of the following year they claimed for damages against Tui claiming they both suffered illness because of the food they consumed. That was false and they did it deliberately trying to make a benefit for themselves.”
Sentencing both Mr Roberts and Ms Muzoka to 12-month suspended jail terms and 200 hours of unpaid community work, district judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “It would fly in the face of common sense for me to ignore the fact that a holiday company feel it necessary, because of a tsunami of claims, to bring a private prosecution.”
The verdict is a further victory for ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) as it continues to press its Stop Sickness Scams campaign. The organisation notes that there has been a 500% increase in the number of compensation claims for holiday sickness.
However, working alongside the government ABTA is helping to crackdown on holidaymakers and claims management companies making these kinds of appeals. The case of Mr Roberts and Ms Muzoka comes after couple Deborah Briton and Paul Roberts were jailed after attempting to claim £20,000 in compensation through a false sickness claim on holidays to Mallorca in 2015 and 2016.
Learn more about ABTA’s Stop Sickness Scams campaign here – https://abta.com/tips-and-latest/abta-campaigns/holiday-sickness