A man from Hove and his daughter have been given suspended prison sentences for lying to help his wife try to claim £1.5 million compensation.
Nabil Tadrous, 63, of Leighton Road, Hove, exaggerated the extent of his wife Thereza Daoud’s injuries, as did their daughter Sherihan (Sheri) Brooks, 30, from Guildford.
Brooks, who is heavily pregnant, was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for a year, for contempt of court.
Tadrous, a former director of Hove YMCA, was sentenced to three months in jail, also suspended for a year, for the same offence.
They are considering appealing against their convictions.
They were found to have grossly exaggerated the extent of Mrs Daoud’s condition when she was examined by medical experts and on court forms.
The judges found that the pair’s dishonesty, had it not been uncovered, would have interfered with the course of justice.
Mrs Daoud, 56, suffered serious head injuries when she was hit by a bus in Queen’s Road, Brighton, six years ago, at about 7.15pm on Wednesday 2 November 2005.
She underwent emergency surgery after suffering a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and broken ribs.
The driver of the Brighton and Hove Buses bus was convicted of careless driving.
Mrs Daoud’s family claimed that she was much less able than surveillance footage filmed by a private detective suggested.
The contempt case was heard by Lord Justice Richards and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies at the High Court in London.
The judgment can be read here. It said: “In our judgment, Mrs Brooks and Mr Tadrous must have known that the relevant statements and representations made at the examinations and assessment which they attended were false.
“The contrast between what was said or represented and the truth concerning Mrs Daoud’s general mobility was too great to allow for the possibility of misunderstanding or mere oversight.”
The court accepted that Mrs Daoud, the former finance director of Egypt’s biggest public transport operator, had suffered serious injury.
The judgment said: “We are satisfied that Mrs Daoud’s claim was at root a genuine one.
“The medical experts agreed that she suffered a severe brain injury.
“While the long-term effects of such an injury can vary greatly, the general tenor of opinion was that she would be expected to be left with a degree of cognitive and psychological disability.
“It is clear … that Mrs Daoud has been a very different woman since the accident.”
The family’s solicitors, Hodge Jones and Allen, said: “Although her very survival was remarkable, Mrs Daoud was left with permanent brain damage and psychiatric injury.
“Family and friends have described how Mrs Daoud, a once vibrant, fun-loving, sophisticated and intelligent woman, who was in employment, ran her household and was always looking after others, changed completely as a result of the injuries she sustained in the bus accident.
“They refer to her as having become childlike, insecure and paranoid.
“Mrs Daoud’s husband describes his wife as having been left with terrible problems with her memory and being depressed and anxious most of the time.
“The bus accident has left her unable to work and completely dependant on her family.
“Mrs Daoud has never received any compensation.
“Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company retained the £40,000 compensation as part of their costs, later fixed at over £99,000, which Mrs Daoud had been ordered to pay as a result of their offer having been accepted ‘out of time’.
“In December 2010 a family still dealing with what had happened to their wife and mother and also now facing bankruptcy … was served with contempt of court proceedings.”
The judgment said: “There was no great degree of sophistication in all of this.
“The false statements made to the experts were not part of any master plan to put forward a fraudulent claim.
“We have already made clear our rejection of the contention that the whole claim was grossly exaggerated.
“In relation to mobility, we have rejected the contention that materially false statements were made in the defendants’ witness statements.”
Hodge Jones and Allen said: “Despite these findings, the judges also reach the conclusion that Mrs Daoud’s husband and eldest daughter were in contempt of court in failing to intervene sufficiently in the examination appointments with medical experts to which they took Mrs Daoud, and using in personal injury proceedings experts’ reports which provided misleading impressions of Mrs Daoud’s abilities.”
Mrs Daoud’s youngest daughter, Merihan, was also accused of contempt but acquitted.
She said: “While I am obviously thankful that justice has been done in my particular case and that the court rejected the bus company’s main claim, confirming that my mother is indeed suffering the effects of a severe brain injury, the decision to convict my father and sister has left me in shock and heartbroken.
“I do not understand how such a wrong and unfair decision could have been reached.
“Sheri and my father are both committed Christians and two of the most wonderful and honest people you could ever hope to meet.
“Even the judges acknowledge their obvious good character and the ‘strongly favourable character evidence’ that was put forward by numerous upstanding members of the community, including two priests.”
The family attend St Mary and St Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church in Davigdor Road, Hove, formerly the Church of St Thomas the Apostle.
Brooks said on the day that the judgment was delivered: “My father and I have not been knowingly or intentionally dishonest in any way.
“We have maintained our innocence throughout these proceedings and today’s judgment has left us devastated.
“The last six years have been a living nightmare for me and my family.
“My beloved mother was nearly killed and her quality of life has been forever ruined.
“All we wanted to do in pursuing personal injury proceedings was to get her the compensation, care and rehabilitation to which she was entitled, to make her life as comfortable as we could, and to try and get back as much as possible of the mother that we had known prior to the accident.
“The personal injury claim, however, assisted with none of these things and in fact left us facing bankruptcy and the loss of our family home.
“On top of all of this my father and I now each face a prison sentence.
“My father is elderly, of poor health and my mother’s main carer.
“I am seven and a half months’ pregnant with my first child who is due near Christmas.
“We face imprisonment all because we did not understand that it was our responsibility to ensure that every medical expert who examined my mother, including consultant neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists, made no error in their reports.
“We genuinely thought that our only role was to ensure that she attended the appointments and that we could leave the rest to the experts.
“We are currently carefully considering the judgment with our legal team and taking advice on appealing today’s decision.”
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