CCTV caught woman lying down in Iceland before compensation bid

CCTV shows the moment a shopper staged a fake accident in a supermarket to try and claim thousands of pounds in injury compensation from Iceland. Teresa Birch was captured on camera slowly lying on the ground at The Food Warehouse store in Paignton, Devon, on January 2 last year.

Footage shows the grey-haired conwoman gently lowering herself to the floor in the aisles of the supermarket out of the sight of staff and other shoppers. She then tried to make a personal injury claim against supermarket chain Iceland Foods - but the fraudster's plans backfired once the CCTV came to light.

Birch has now narrowly avoided jail and been ordered to pay over £17,000 in court costs after being convicted of contempt of court. She had said she was involved in an accident after “her foot caught in the loop handle on the sack” of a bag which had been left out.

Birch then attempted to claim £10,000 compensation for injuries to her right knee and left hand, submitting a Claims Notification Form through lawyers on February 21 last year. However, the supermarket denied liability and shared CCTV footage which they stated made "crystal clear" the accident was planned and staged.

Birch's lawyers promptly ceasing to act on her behalf and she was hauled before a court herself. On Friday, Birch pleaded guilty of contempt of court in front of His Honour Judge Mitchell, sitting as a judge of the High Court, at Plymouth District Registry.

She was handed a four week custodial sentence, suspended for twelve months, and also ordered to pay Iceland’s costs, which are in excess of £17,000. Iceland Foods legal director Duncan Vaughan said: “We and other retailers are sadly often faced with fraudulent or exaggerated claims which can be difficult to defend.

"In this instance we had strong evidence in the CCTV footage, which meant that there was no other reasonable explanation for the defendant’s actions other than deliberately staging an “accident” in order to make a claim against us.”

Iceland CEO Tarsem Dhaliwal added: “Like shoplifting, the making of fraudulent injury claims adds to the stress and costs of doing business and ultimately makes shopping more expensive for everyone. We are determined to fight this in the interests of our colleagues, customers and society as a whole.

"Anyone seeing Iceland as a soft touch should be in no doubt that we will do our utmost to defeat fraudsters and will not hesitate to bring them before the courts for punishment.”