Scammer claimed car without engine was driven away by thieves

VW Golf being towed to be burnt out by its owner Hayley Barlow Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption Barlow was caught on CCTV steering the car as it was towed

A woman has admitted staging an "elaborate scam" which saw her claim her car was driven off by thieves and burnt out, despite it having no engine.

Hayley Barlow, 36, claimed £2,000 on her insurance after telling police her VW Golf was taken during a break-in at her home in Chester in July 2018.

However, she was caught on CCTV steering the car as it was towed the two miles to where it was set alight.

She was given four months, suspended for 12 months, at Chester Crown Court.

The 36-year-old, of Treborth Road, Chester, pleaded guilty to fraud, perverting the course of justice and possession of cocaine, which was found at her home during a police search, at an earlier hearing.

Cheshire Police said Barlow reported the theft of the car in the early hours of 4 July, hours after the vehicle had been found by firefighters on Green Lane in nearby Saughall.

She then called her insurance company to make a claim.

Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption Barlow used a can of butane gas to set light to the car

A subsequent police investigation revealed the car's engine was missing when it caught fire, though Barlow told officers it had been "in working order when it was stolen", a Cheshire Police spokesman said.

However, CCTV footage captured her at the wheel of the car as it was towed to Green Lane by a van, whose driver she had paid £20, he said.

Once in place, she then used a can of butane gas to set the vehicle alight, before returning home at about 21:10 BST.

She later told police her actions had been "spurred by debts" and the amount of money the car was costing her in repairs, the force spokesman said.

Speaking after sentencing, Det Con Nicky Edgell said not only had Barlow reported a burglary that did not happen and attempted to defraud her insurer, she also "caused a potential environmental and health hazard by setting fire to the vehicle".

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