25 March 2024

'This was no accident': husband, wife 'hatched' plan to stage car crash then claim insurance

| Albert McKnight
woman and man looking angry at the photographer

Lina Faris (left) and Rabea Fares gesture at the media when photographed during their trial. Photos: Albert McKnight.

While one wannabee insurance fraudster has been sent to jail, his wife and co-offender has been allowed to serve her sentence in the community, even though a judge said she “deserved” to be locked up too.

Rabea Fares, 48, and Lina Faris, 44, were found guilty of three fraud-related charges each at the end of an ACT Supreme Court jury trial last year before they were sentenced on Friday (22 March).

Fares was handed two years’ jail with one year non-parole, which means he can be released from March 2025, while Faris was handed a two-year intensive corrections order (ICO), a community-based sentence.

She wiped her eyes with tissues during their sentencing and their family members cried in the courtroom gallery when custodial officers led her husband away.

On 27 February 2020, Adam Hasan Kilani deliberately drove a silver BMW convertible into the back of an Audi, driven by Faris with her husband in the passenger seat, on Eucumbene Drive in Duffy.

Afterwards, all three made insurance claims. But Acting Justice Peter Berman said “this was no accident at all” because Kilani had deliberately driven into the Audi as part of a plan “hatched” between them to make claims on their insurance.

Their plan came undone due to a combination of “bad luck, bad planning” and a poor understanding of how experts could tell that what they claimed about the crash was untrue, he said.

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An expert found that the Audi, insured for $55,000, had developed several faults before the collision. The BMW, purchased for $25,000, was insured for $138,000.

Kilani originally said he didn’t know Fares, but a police officer called to the scene remembered going to an incident where the pair had been working together as painters. Records showed there were a number of calls between their phone numbers leading up to the crash.

Faris claimed she was driving at 60 km/h before the collision, but an expert found her car had been stationary at the time of the crash. Also, the evidence revealed that Kilani had driven towards the Audi, not away from it.

Afterwards, Faris made a third-party claim of $32,000 while her husband made a claim for $59,000.

angry man holding a kebab

Rabea Fares remonstrates with a member of the media outside the courthouse during his trial. Photo: Albert McKnight.

“Their deliberate crash likely caused the diversion of important community resources away from people with genuine needs,” Acting Justice Berman said.

He said there was no suggestion of financial difficulties, and it was likely that their offences were motivated by greed rather than need.

The pair have been married for 24 years and have four children, two of whom are not yet teenagers. Faris is their primary caregiver while her Jordan-born husband works.

Earlier, the court heard about the difficulties that their children would face if Faris were remanded in custody.

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Acting Justice Berman said there was always something “distasteful” about offenders relying on the hardship of their children in sentencing when they had committed the offences with knowledge about the impacts that could be caused to their children.

He said full-time prison was “deserved” for Faris, but the hardship that would be caused to her children meant he accepted she should receive an ICO.

Faris was found guilty of attempting to dishonestly obtain a financial advantage by deception, being knowingly concerned in Kilani’s attempt to obtain a financial advantage and attempting to dishonestly obtain a financial advantage.

Fares was found guilty of agreeing with his wife to attempt to obtain a financial advantage by deception, being knowingly concerned in Kilani’s attempt to obtain a financial advantage and attempting to dishonestly obtain a financial advantage.

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