The family of the victim of the first ever recorded fatal 'cash-for-crash' accident said they will never recover after four men were jailed over the attempted insurance scam.
Baljinder Kaur Gill, 34, died when her Ford Fiesta, was hit again by a van "in an explosion of metal, glass and dust" as her car sat stationary in the fast lane of the A40 in Buckinghamshire.
Radoslaw Bielawski, Jacek Kowalczyk, Andrzez Skowron and Artur Okrutny were sentenced for the £20,000 insurance scam, in which a Volkswagen Passat and an Audi A3 were to be crashed into a Ford Transit van in order to claim personal injury compensation.
The van driver managed to stop before hitting the Passat, but Miss Gill went into the back of the Transit.
Andrzez Skowron was jailed for ten years for his part in the fraud
Miss Gill, who was three days from her birthday, then had her car hit by another van, a Renault Trafic, as she reached back into the car to get some personal items.
She died at the scene.
This staged collision on June 11 2011 on the westbound carriageway near Denham, west London, was part of a criminal industry which costs insurers £392 million a year through false claims, Reading Crown Court heard.
Passing sentence, judge Mr Justice Sweeney said: "This is the first such enterprise to result in a death to come before the courts.
Radoslaw Bielawski was jailed for 10 years
Relatives of Miss Gill, who lived in Stanwell, near Staines in Surrey, little more than a dozen miles from the crash site, were in court today to see the men, all from London, jailed.
After the hearing they said she was "the innocent victim of a cold-blooded and calculated incident".
"Our lives changed forever in June 2011 when Baljinder was killed on the A40 following what can only be described as a staged and planned 'crash for cash' collision," they said.
"The events of the evening in June 2011 will never be forgotten, our family will never recover from this tragic event which took the life of our beautiful daughter, sister and truly loved member of our family from us.
"As a united family we hope that the result of these court proceedings will prevent any other innocent person being killed or injured on the road through the greed of others."
The court heard that the fraudsters filed a bogus compensation claim just two days after the crash despite their plan going wrong.
Ringleaders Bielawski, 24 and Kowalczyk, 32, from Fraser Road, Perivale, were both jailed for a total of 10 years and three months for conspiracy to commit fraud, causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice.
Skowron, 25, who was to be paid an undisclosed fee for taking part in the scam, was jailed for 10 years for conspiracy to commit fraud and causing death by dangerous driving.
Jacek Kowalczyk was one of the ring leaders
Okrutny, 23, from Briar Road, London, who was to be paid just £300 to help pay off debts, was not present at the crashes but was jailed for 12 months for conspiring to pervert the course of justice by providing false driver details after the crash and making a false statement to police about what happened in the crash.
Colin Lee, 34, whose Renault van ploughed into Miss Gill's car, was jailed for 12 months for causing death by careless driving, having been previously cleared by a jury of causing death by dangerous driving.
Lee, from York Place, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was not part of the gang's conspiracy but was doing 70mph when he crashed, despite the limit for his van on that stretch of road being 60mph. The judge said he did not make enough effort to avoid crashing into Miss Gill, despite having time to do so.
The court heard the deliberate crash and subsequent fatal collision at 8.20pm on the summer evening was followed by a pile-up on the eastbound carriageway, possibly because of "rubber-necking", that left another person seriously injured.
Prosecutor Noel Lucas QC said crash-for-cash frauds were happening on a daily basis and putting enormous strain on the motor insurance industry.
Lawyers for the four men said they had all arrived from Poland within the last 10 years and were working full-time and not receiving benefits.
They said their clients were sorry about Miss Gill's death, but tried to mitigate by pointing out that it was Lee who was directly responsible for the impact which caused Miss Gill's death.
Christine Henson, representing Lee, said he was "an innocent motorist" who had become "embroiled" in the gang's plan.
"In this case he did not set out to injure anyone, let alone death," she said.
"He stands to be sentenced for an offence which in a very large part was contributed to by others, leaving Miss Gill in her car sitting in the fast lane of the A40."
But Mr Justice Sweeney said Lee, who had a woman and child in the van at the time, had had nine seconds to brake between when he should first have seen the accident scene ahead and hitting Miss Gill's car.
In reality he started braking just 25 yards from impact, the judge said, hitting her small vehicle at 55mph.
Baljit Ubhey, the chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in the Thames and Chiltern area, said Miss Gill was killed by a "ruthless gang intent on making money".
"The location chosen for the staged collision created an obvious risk that an innocent motorist would be killed as a result of their greed."
She said the annual cost to the motor industry of crash-for-cash scams is £392 million - £1.7 million a day, according to IFB figures.
The fraudsters had a comparatively small potential advantage in causing the crash, she said.
"Whiplash to three of them would have secured them between £12-15,000, plus whatever damage was done to their car.
"They selfishly placed their own financial gain over and above the life of Miss Gill."
Phil Bird, director of the IFB, added: "Crash-for-cash fraudsters gamble with the lives of UK motorists by deliberately causing crashes for financial gain.
"This dangerous crime has now cost a young, innocent motorist their life - it must be stopped."
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