Crooked solicitor jailed

A PERSONAL injury solicitor was jailed for two and a half years after trying to con tens of thousands of pounds out of a council and an insurance company.

Phillip Labrum’s professional and personal life was in ruins after he made a false claim for damages and submitted fake documents.

The 48-year-old claimed he had burned his feet on concrete that had been supplied to his farm where he intended to build livery stables.

He received damages of �5,000 from Hanson Aggregates’ insurers, but he went on to claim another �75,600 for loss of earnings because he could no longer carry out his work. That money was never paid, St Albans Crown Court heard yesterday (Thursday).

Labrum submitted a false bill of costs in relation to the case against Hanson, receiving a total of �3,013.88.

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The father-of-two claimed he fell into a pothole near his home in Friends Green, Weston and sued Hertfordshire County Council for loss of earnings of �75,600. He again claimed he was unable to continue with his proposed livery business because of his back injuries.

“The claim by Mr Labrum was withdrawn but the council suffered in terms of costs because of the criminality of the defendant,” said prosecutor Robert O’Sullivan.

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Labrum also made a claim against his vehicle insurers when he drove his Reliant Scimitar onto his neighbour’s drive and had a minor collision with a VW Golf.

In making the accident claim Labrum said the VW belonged to his neighbour. In fact both cars were his and the neighbour simply allowed him to park there.

Norwich Union paid �4,900 for damage to the Scimitar and �328 for the VW Golf. The money for the Golf was sent to the neighbour, who gave the equivalent cash to Labrum and told him he wanted nothing to do with what was going on.

Labrum then said he drove his Reliant Scimitar into a pothole near his house and made a claim against Herts County Council for the damage. To support his case he stated that the accident was witnessed by a friend from whom he had obtained a statement and provided an estimate of repair from a garage in Chelmsford.

The friend told police he had not witnessed the accident, but had merely come across it after it had occurred and the garage owner from Chelmsford said the estimate was false.

Labrum was convicted of two counts of false accounting, three of obtaining a money transfer by deception, one of fraud, one of doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice and one of forgery.

Mr O’Sullivan asked for �7,187.55 costs and for compensation totalling �27,560 for Herts County Council, Zurich and Aviva, formerly Norwich Union, for the money they had paid out and the cost of their investigations into Labrum’s claims.

Defence barrister Lee Karu QC said that the personal injury claims of �75,000 did not lead to any actual loss. He said that if Labrum had made an honest claim after the crash, by stating both cars were his, he would have been paid. He said the actual loss from the claims amounted to only �3.013.

He said Labrum had a “bee in his bonnet” about potholes and had showed a resentment of authority.

Mr Karu went on: “He was not motivated by material greed or financial gain. He was not in any financial difficulties. His property was worth a lot of money.

“His real punishment has been awaiting trial. He has been a solicitor for 25 years and was a man of good character. He has lost his good character and has been struck off.

“His father has stopped speaking to him. His wife is divorcing him, mainly as a result of these proceedings. He has lost absolutely everything.”

Jailing him, Judge Stephen Gullick said it was a shame Labrum had not abided by the adage: “A lawyer who conducts his own litigation has a fool for a client.”

The judge told him: “These were extremely serious offences made more so because of who you were.”

He said Labrum must pay the full prosecution costs and the compensation in full by March 1 next year.

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