Haverhill: Bus spotter sentenced for fraud

A SUFFOLK bus spotter who left his employers with an �11,000 bill after carrying out research for his hobby at work has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Steven Curl, who worked for insurance company AXA, carried out 3,000 checks on vehicles with the DVLA at a cost to his employers of �3.75 for each check, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Curl, who had worked for AXA for 18 years, lost his job when his bosses realised what he had been doing and yesterday he was given a five-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work in the community.

Curl, 45, of Pearmain Walk, Haverhill, admitted one offence of fraud relating to the abuse of his position as an employee of AXA by conducting transactions with the DVLA for his own use between December 2007 and October 2009.

Patricia Doggett, prosecuting, said the offences came to light after the DVLA queried why Curl, who worked in the claims handling department for AXA in Haverhill, had done a specific search on a vehicle.

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The court heard that Curl was a member of the management committee for a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) group of enthusiasts and used the information he obtained to complete records on vehicles for newssheets.

Miss Doggett said no-one else was involved in the wrong-doing and Curl had admitted what he had been doing when he was interviewed by the police.

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She said Curl had not been paid to get the information, but had received �250 for each newsletter to which he contributed.

Lindsay Cox, for Curl, said his client had not made any money out of what he had done and realised he should not have acted in the way he had done.

Curl had initially tried to create a smokescreen to hide what he had been doing, but had come clean and made admissions.

Mr Cox said that bus spotting might seem a surprising hobby, but it had quite a following and involved tracing the life history of buses from the production line to the scrapyard.

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