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Alleged Insurance Frauds in Limerick Unveiled, Peculiar Evidence Presented | Limerick Gazette Archives

Alleged Insurance Frauds in Limerick Unveiled, Peculiar Evidence Presented

In the Grand Jury room of the City Courthouse, Mr E. F. Hickson, RM, presided over the case of Robert Lambert, who was remanded on charges of committing a series of frauds against the Sun Insurance Company, his former employer. Representing the Sun Company, Mr J. E. Denning, a solicitor from Dublin, prosecuted the case, while Mr I. Nash, solicitor, appeared for the accused, who was out on bail.

Mr Denning stated that Lambert had worked for the company for many years, primarily overseeing the fire engines before the Corporation took over. Afterwards, he received a pension of one pound per month from the company. His duties involved assessing risks at the local agency, which was managed by Mr McCann, the National Bank manager. Lambert’s alleged frauds spanned at least three years and followed a distinct pattern. Letters were sent to the Sun Office in Limerick, falsely claiming that fires had occurred on certain premises. Some letters even mentioned policy numbers, while others simply stated that the sender was insured by the company.

Lambert would then investigate the claims and provide a list of alleged damages, often undervaluing them compared to what a contractor would estimate. For instance, if a contractor assessed £10 for damages, Lambert would reduce it to £5 10s. The company and Mr McCann trusted Lambert’s judgment and believed he was handling the cases efficiently. Lambert would collect the money, bring back a signed receipt, and the company would pay him accordingly. However, it emerged that at least twenty cases had no fires at all, indicating that Lambert had pocketed the money for himself.

In the present case, the prosecution chose to focus on seven instances: John Kiely (£3 15+ on August 21, 1902), B. Power (£5 on May 23, 1902), Jeremiah Anglim (£5 12+ on February 20, 1904), P. Kelly (£2 15s 6d on March 25, 1903), E. Fina (£2 18s on January 8, 1903), and J. Kelly (£2 10 in September 1901). The seventh case involved a peculiar situation where a claim was made by Mr T. Locke, but when the company decided to send an assessor, a letter was received purportedly signed by Mr Locke himself, withdrawing the claim due to the disorder and sickness in the family. As a result, the company refused to renew Mr Locke’s policy.

Witnesses were called to testify, and it was established that the letters, claims, and receipts presented as evidence were not in their handwriting, nor had they authorized anyone to write or sign them. Mr McCann, the National Bank manager, confirmed that Lambert had been handling the company’s business for him. He testified to the payments made to Lambert based on estimates and receipts purportedly signed by the policyholders. Teller Mr Plummer confirmed cashing a cheque for £3 12s for Mr Anglim and paying it to the defendant.

Head Constable Moore recounted Lambert’s arrest, during which the accused remained silent. However, while getting onto a car to be transported to court, Lambert inquired if paying the money back to the National Bank would resolve the situation. Inquiries made by the police revealed no contractors by the names of Ryan and O’Brien, as mentioned in Lambert’s transactions.

Mr Wm Coote, the resident secretary of the Sun Insurance Company, stated that Lambert had been a loyal employee for the past twenty years, receiving a pension after the company’s fire engine services were discontinued in Limerick. While there were a total of 23 cases involving Lambert’s fraudulent activities, the exact amount defrauded was unknown.

Mr Denning concluded the evidence, expressing that the company did not wish to press charges against Lambert, considering his long service and the loss of his pension. However, they believed it necessary to bring the matter to light and have the charges investigated. Mr Nash reserved the defence, and the defendant was committed for trial in the January Quarter Sessions. Bail was set at £50, with two sureties of £25 each.

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 18 October 1904