Family face court on car scam charges.
FAMILY members have gone on trial accused of being "at the heart" of an insurance fraud by staging accidents and receiving tens of thousands of pounds in insurance payouts.
Between them, five members of the Yandell family, and their associate Jennifer Cosh, deny a total of 28 charges which allege they were part of conspiracy to defraud between July 2009 and December 2011 by making false insurance claims in a "cash for crash" scam where they received payouts of more than PS202,500.
Byron Yandell, Rachel Yandell and Peter Yandell deny all 28 counts on the indictment at Cardiff Crown Court.
Gavin Yandell denies three counts, Michelle Yandell denies two counts and Cosh denies three counts.
Prosecuting barrister Christopher Clee QC opened the trial, saying the case involved 87 different people coming together to make false insurance claims about road traffic accidents.
Mr Clee said the "majority" of the accidents did not happen.
"At the heart of this scheme were members of the Yandell family," he said.
The case revolves around St Davids Accident Repair and Easifix, known as Motorcheck, based at Unit D on St Davids Industrial Estate in Pengam, Caerphilly.
Byron Yandell took over the premises in June 2009.
CCTV was recovered by Gwent Police during the investigation from the premises for a period between July 11 and August 2, 2011.
It showed Byron Yandell was there on 19 of those 21 days. Peter Yandell on 16 days, Gavin Yandell on 16 of them and heavily pregnant Rachel Yandell on 12 of the 21 days.
The prosecution says Byron Yandell, Rachel Yandell and Peter Yandell were the "driving forces" behind the scam.
Mr Clee said that, from July 2009 to October 2010, Byron Yandell claimed to have had four different collisions in 15 months.
Rachel Yandell claimed to have been with him on one of these occasions but also had two other crashes.
Peter Yandell said he had three collisions in 18 months, Gavin Yandell claimed he has three collisions in 20 months. "So, between them, they were involved in 15 alleged collisions in less than two years. If these were genuine, they may well qualify as the unluckiest family in South Wales," Mr Clee said.
Cosh was involved in three claims.
Mr Clee said evidence will also be produced linking other family members and associates who also had a high frequency of collisions.
He said six of the 28 alleged collisions occurred on the same road, Pengam Road, four on New Road in Oakdale and seven on the A469.
A number of the vehicles had high mileage and "dubious histories".
Details for ownership and insurance between the vehicles "passed back and forth between defendants".
Mr Clee went through details of a number of claims and payouts by insurance companies. Claims were settled for sums including PS19,000, PS38,000, PS11,000 and PS21,500. Personal injury payouts of thousands of pounds were made to the defendants.
After one alleged incident, which saw insurers pay out PS33,600, Rachel Yandell received PS5,000 but there are inconsistencies about the damage caused.
After a different crash supposedly involving Rachel Yandell in May 2011, she was allegedly given a courtesy car by Easifix.
The business was paid PS5,700 for hire between May and August. During those dates, the car was supposedly also hired to a second driver. The business received PS800 for that second hire.
The car was seen being pushed around the yard and the prosecution believe it did not even run.
Mr Clee said CCTV showed Rachel Yandell driving a Mercedes during the period she was supposedly using the courtesy car.
"She didn't need another car in the first place," he said.
In another count, the prosecution say an innocent woman was found at fault for an incident in the car park of Morrisons in Blackwood.
The independent witness, who claimed to have seen the incident, was later caught on CCTV at Easifix talking to the driver who had reversed into the innocent victim.
Video will be shown during the trial of cars arriving at the garage days after alleged incidents with no damage. They are later seen again but with damage.
Mr Clee showed CCTV during his opening statement of a Land Rover being driven at a forklift truck parked in the grounds of Easifix. It is then reversed and driven at the forklift again, where it collides for a second time.
He said further CCTV shows Byron and Peter Yandell "deliberately" deploying the airbags manually "to make it appear as though it has been in a genuine collision".
Cosh, 39, is from Pont y Gwindy in Caerphilly.
Byron Yandell, 31, and his wife Rachel Yandell, 30, are both from Queens Road in New Tredegar. His brother Gavin Yandell, 29, is from Clos Claerwen and their parents, Michelle Yandell, 51, and Peter Yandell, 52, are both from Wheatley Place, both in Blackwood.
Rachel Yandell | Gavin Yandell
Byron Yandell | Jennifer Cosh