Jurors in the trial of a married couple accused of staging a car crash before claiming insurance have been told not to assume “a husband tells his wife everything”.
Husband and wife Rabea Fares and Lina Faris are fighting the allegations against them in an ACT Supreme Court trial that began last week.
Jurors heard police had arrived at the crash site to find a black Audi had been hit from behind by a silver BMW on Eucumbene Drive in Duffy about 4 pm on 27 February 2020.
Originally, Ms Faris claimed to have been driving the Audi with Mr Fares in her front passenger seat, while Saba Al Kinani said she had driven the BMW and her brother Adam Hasan Kilani was her passenger.
Several insurance claims were made after the crash, both for the cars and injuries.
Kilani had his BMW insured for $132,000 while Mr Fares had the Audi insured for $55,000, prosecutor Morgan Howe said in his closing address on Monday (13 November).
He claimed the pair worked as painters and had known each other since at least 2018 as a police officer said he’d met them then when called to a civil dispute.
He also alleged that records showed numerous texts and calls between phone numbers belonging to the pair in the lead-up to the crash, including a call made on the day it happened.
That day, a witness allegedly caught up to and drove past both cars on Eucumbene Drive as they were travelling well below the speed limit. This was consistent with the drivers ensuring that no other vehicles would be around at the time of the crash, the prosecutor claimed.
He said Ms Faris told police she had been driving normally when she was hit from behind and a woman had been driving the BMW, then she told her insurer she’d been in the middle of the road at the time.
However, the prosecutor said police claimed the Audi was stationary and parked on the side of the road after looking at the marks at the scene. Also, police said there were no marks to indicate the Audi had braked.
Barrister Dean Ager said Kilani’s BMW had been insured for more than its value, but he questioned what this man’s actions had to do with his client, Ms Faris. He said Kilani claimed he knew of her but didn’t know her.
Mr Ager said there was no evidence Ms Faris knew there was an alleged plan for Kilani to drive his BMW into their Audi, nor that she knew Kilani would make a claim on his BMW.
He also said a doctor accepted she might have suffered memory loss due to the collision. He argued it was plausible she forgot things like pulling over and stopping the Audi, while she also might have been “a poor historian” who was not good at recalling exactly what happened.
Mr Ager also said his client had told police Ms Al Kinani had been the BMW’s driver, although the jurors now knew this was untrue, as Kinani had told them he was the driver.
But he said she had seen Ms Al Kinani in the driver’s seat and Kilani in the passenger’s seat after the crash, so had believed it was the case.
“Do not assume a husband tells his wife everything,” he concluded.
Barrister Todd Pickering said his client, Mr Fares, was “doing quite well financially”, earned about $200,000 a year and was not behind in the payments for the Audi.
“So you might be scratching your heads to look for some kind of financial motivation,” he said.
He did say the BMW had been bought for $25,000, so “you might think Mr Kilani was driving around praying for a collision”. The barrister said he would not need to involve anyone else in a scheme, “he just needs someone to run up the back of”.
Mr Pickering also said it was curious there was no evidence of contact between Kilani and Mr Fares after the crash. He said jurors might think this was not consistent with them being part of a scheme.
Kilani has already pleaded guilty to attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception and dangerous driving.
Ms Faris and Mr Fares have been charged with attempting to dishonestly obtain a financial advantage by deception, among other charges. They pleaded not guilty.
Acting Justice Peter Berman will give his address to the jurors today (14 November) before they begin their deliberations.