Couple caught out by Facebook photos

A judge has warned a couple who tried to con a holiday company by lying about being taken ill in Turkey they could soon be enjoying ‘another break’ this time behind bars.

Leon Roberts and Jade Muzoka were told there’s a real prospect they will face a custodial sentence to serve as a deterrent against the ‘tsunami’ of bogus compensation claims.

The pair lied about being bedridden with vomiting and diarrhoea and sued the hotel and tour operators Thomson, now known as TUI.

Leon Roberts, 38, and mother-of-two Jade Muzoka, 27, claimed damages after their week’s holiday in the resort of Belek

But just days after returning home the bodybuilders uploaded 79 snaps on Facebook, boasting about their sunshine holiday, showing them guzzling drinks and dining on steak and chips and sushi.

The holiday firm TUI said the claim could have cost them £50,000 had they not been caught out.

Now District Judge Jonathan Taffe has told the former lovers he will need to pass a sentence which will send out a message to others.

At an earlier hearing both pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation in relation to their holiday in Turkey in July 2015 after claiming their vacation was ruined by food poisoning.

Southern Derbyshire magistrates heard Roberts, 38, and mum-of-two Muzoka, 27, claimed damages after their week’s holiday in the resort of Belek.

Tim Hunter, representing Tui, told the judge: ‘Both enjoyed a holiday at the Cornelia Golf Resort and Spa in Turkey in July 2015 which passed without incident or complaint

‘Apparently from social media it appears both had a very enjoyable time.’

The complex boasts four outdoor pools, waterslides and sun terraces which are all open throughout the summer months, together with a heated circular indoor pool.

It offers water-skiing, bowling and pool tables as well as a spa and wellness centre, vitamin bar and Turkish baths There’s also a 27-hole championship golf course designed by Nick Faldo for guests to enjoy.

And there’s six a la carte restaurants, ten bars and separate buffet restaurant. At night holidaymakers can dance the night away in the open-air disco.

Ten months later in April 2016 the couple, who both live in Derby, filed a claim for around £3,000 damages, alleging they had suffered illness, their documents included a doctor’s report.

‘That claim was false’ added Mr Hunter.

Tui launched an investigation in conjunction with the resort but could find nothing to support the allegations.

Now the company say the cost of dealing with the bogus claim for Roberts and Muzoka, who have a child together, is in the region of £50,000.

Both Roberts’ and Muzoka’s solicitors questioned the figure claiming the claim against Tui was never persued.

Nicola Hunter, for Muzoka, said the young mum., who works part-time who had become involved in the scam after speaking with a colleague. She admitted it was an ‘exaggerated claim’.

She had mentioned that she had felt ill while on holiday and the friend advised her she could make a claim. After signing some documents, she thought no more of it.

Later she moved and then had a baby and heard nothing about the claim for some time. When she was eventually contacted about it she quickly dropped the case and was hit with a £600 bill from her ‘no win, no fee’ solicitors.

Ms Hunter also described Tui’s investigation as ‘basic’ saying they had only ‘checked on Facebook’.

Adjourning the case District Judge Taffe said it appeared the matter had ‘crossed’ the custody threshold and he would be considering a jail sentence.

He added: ‘That is in the forefront of my mind, it would be flying in the face of common sense to think this is an isolated incident.

‘It is a very real problems for the holiday companies. The costs are inevitably passed on to genuine people, while others who do suffer illness on their holidays have their claims met with scepticism.’

‘This offence is outside the (sentencing) guidelines because it encourages a tsunami of false claims.

‘All options are open at this stage and this is a serious case and it may be that a custodial sentence will follow to show the importance of your wrongdoing.’