Judge convicts 'cash for crash' trio without jury after attempts to bribe jurors

A judge who discharged a jury after attempts were made to bribe its members has convicted three men involved in a "cash for crash" scam.

Mr Justice Goss took the rare step of returning verdicts without a jury after jurors trying the case at Leeds Crown Court reported that they had been approached and bribed to reach certain decisions.

The judge found Sabir Hussain, Raja Hussain and Shahrear Islam Miah guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud after a collision in which 88-year-old Betty Laird was killed in 2014.

Sabir Hussain and Raja Hussain were also convicted of Mrs Laird's manslaughter. Miah was cleared of this charge.

Mr Justice Goss told the court on Monday: "I was satisfied to a standard of sureness that there had been a concerted attempt to tamper with the jury, approaches having been made to five of them after they left court on Tuesday 21 February by at least two different people, one female and one or two males, to reach certain verdicts, which, in themselves, were in direct conflict."

He added: "It was plain that the trial could not proceed with the jury."

Mrs Laird died from her injuries after the Renault Kangoo she was a passenger in was in collision with a Volkswagen Passat on Old Lane, Beeston, Leeds, on September 10 2014.

A number of men travelling in the Passat, which struck the Kangoo as it turned right across the traffic into a shop car park, were uninjured.

One of the men in the car, Mohammed Ubaidullah, who later pleaded guilty to Mrs Laird's manslaughter and conspiracy to commit fraud, told police the collision was not a genuine accident but a deliberate act as part of a "cash for crash" scam.

He said Sabir Hussain was the driver of the car.

Sabir Hussain and Raja Hussain, who did not give evidence in the trial, said they were innocent passengers in the car, the collision was an accident and they were not involved in the "cash for crash".

Miah said he was not in the Passat and knew nothing about any plan to submit fraudulent claims.

Giving his judgment, Mr Justice Goss said: "I am satisfied on all the evidence to a standard of sureness that there was a conspiracy to stage a crash for cash with a view to making fraudulent insurance claims."

He added: "The collision was an unlawful act that carried the foreseeable risk that some injury might be caused and, in fact, caused the death of Betty Laird."

The judge said he could not be sure, on the evidence, that Miah was in the car at the time of the collision and found him not guilty of manslaughter.

Ubaidullah, 29, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester; Sabir Hussain, 25, of Beeston, Leeds; Raja Hussain, 31, of Beeston, Leeds; and Miah, 26, of Chadderton, Oldham, will all be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mrs Laird's son John Laird said his mother was "made of strong stuff".

He said: "Although mum was 88, she was still enjoying family get-togethers, Christmas lunches, holidays and days out with (her friend) Jeff. In particular, she loved bingo and would play at every opportunity.

"Like I said previously, she was made of strong stuff and most likely would still be here today if it wasn't for the greed of a group of young men, who collaborated and agreed on a scheme to make money and seem to have no regard for others and are only interested in fraudulent financial gain, no matter what the cost.

"I hope that their punishment fits their crime and that this kind of scheme is wiped out before any more innocent persons are killed or injured going about their normal everyday business."

Mr Laird said the driver of the Kangoo, his mother's friend Jeff Grimshaw, died days after the collision from an unrelated cause, believing that he had caused Mrs Laird's death.

Sergeant Carl Quinn, of West Yorkshire Police, said he hoped the convictions would be a "stark warning" to anyone involved in cash for crash schemes.

He said: "These men set out that day to deliberately cause a crash purely motivated by greed for money from a bogus insurance claim.

"Instead, their actions cost Betty Laird her life and left her family absolutely devastated."

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