3 Jailed Over False Insurance Claims in English Channel Ferry Boat Disaster

Associated Press

A court ordered jail terms for three Britons who tried to get insurance money by falsely claiming they had relatives among the estimated 134 people killed when a British ferry capsized off Belgium.

Magistrates Court at Sandwich on Friday gave a 12-week jail term to James Lee, 50, and a four-week sentence to his common-law wife, Marjorie Luckhurst, 56. In a separate case, the court sentenced Robert Fenwick, 39, to 16 weeks in jail.

The 7,951-ton Herald of Free Enterprise capsized off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on March 6. Of the 543 people aboard, 60 have been confirmed dead, and 74 bodies are believed to be still inside the half-submerged ferry.

Prosecutor Alan Spong told the court that Lee pretended his estranged wife, Winifred Lee, was a victim so that he could make a false insurance claim. But she was later found alive and well.

Earlier, Spong told the court that Fenwick falsely claimed he had lost four members of his family. Fenwick was flown to Belgium after the ferry disaster and was shown photographs to try to identify his "family." But inquiries by police and Red Cross staff revealed he had made up the names.

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