By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A South East panel-beater and three others have pleaded guilty over a “sophisticated” series of insurance claims for fabricated car crashes.
Dean Petric, 33, who owns White Eagles Pty Ltd, was charged with five frauds totalling more than $66,000 at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 9 July.
His co-accused were ex-partner Dominique Dall’Asen, 28, her mother Kim Rattle, 52, and Monawar Haidarie, 22.
The rorting was uncovered after Haidarie falsely reported to police that he was a victim of an aggravated car-jacking in Cranbourne North in July 2018.
In his initial police interview, Haidarie identified the ‘offenders’ as two Caucasian males.
Two months later, his story changed to two African offenders with a knife.
Police investigated Haidarie’s fraudulent insurance claim for $31,000 for the ‘stolen car’, made through Petric’s smash repair business.
The court was told there was a string of fraudulent claims in 2014-18 involving White Eagles, which trades as Melbourne Prestige Auto Repair Centre in Hampton Park and D & S Auto Body in Pakenham.
Petric liaised with the co-accused to submit the false claims through his business, according to a police summary submitted in court.
Dall’Asen, of Pakenham, was Petric’s ex-partner and worked in an insurer’s claims department.
According to police, she and Petric used their “industry knowledge” to submit claims with false quotes.
Dall’Asen and Petric were charged over two claims that defrauded Shannon’s (Suncorp) for $12,138 in 2015 and $17,358.91 in 2016.
In the first case, Dall’Asen reported she’d crashed Petric’s Triton into a concrete pole at Fountain Gate shopping centre.
In the second, she claimed she struck a kangaroo in Petric’s Triton in Dubbo NSW.
Petric was also charged with three failed claims totalling more than $37,000.
His lawyer told the court that Petric wasn’t motivated by enrichment, but was a “people pleaser”.
Since the charges, Petric and his business suffered a loss of integrity and reputation. White Eagles, which had made profits of up to $700,000, was now in the red.
Dall’Asen was “too accommodating” and didn’t think enough of the consequences, her defence lawyer told the court.
“As for direct financial benefit, she got nothing out of it.”
Magistrate Tara Hartnett said there was a “degree of organisation” in the plot, with Dall’Asen making multiple follow-up calls to the insurers.
“It was not an isolated dishonesty-type matter where there’s been a spontaneous action.”
She noted Dall’Asen’s lack of prior history, nor drug or alcohol issues and her circumstances as a single mother.
Dall’Asen’s mother Rattle made a false $11,000 insurance claim that her Hilux was hit from behind in Narre Warren in 2017. She reported that Dall’Asen was driving the vehicle.
Ms Hartnett handed down 12-month community correction orders with conviction to Petric (with 170 hours unpaid work), Dall’Asen (120 hours) and Haidarie (150 hours).
They would have faced jail terms had they had relevant prior offending, she noted.
Petric, Dall’Asen and Haidarie were ordered to pay back the defrauded amounts.
Rattle, a registered nurse who runs a Noble Park aged care home, was spared conviction. She was placed on a 12-month CCO with 70 hours unpaid work.