- Sean Delaney, 40, was passenger in 'flashy' Mercedes when it crashed
- He ruptured organs and was left in a coma in 2006 accident
- But as rescuers cut him free they found 240g block of cannabis
- Delaney, who now needs care, later tried to sue the car's uninsured driver
- Insurers dodged claim due to clause excluding vehicles involved in crime
- But High Court today ruled that clause is in breach of EU laws
- As a result the Government must pick up the tab - expected to be millions
A drug dealer caught with a huge block of cannabis when he was in a serious car crash is in line for a multi-million pound payout.
The Department of Transport had been trying to stop Sean Delaney profiting from the injuries he suffered in the smash.
But yesterday a judge ruled this would have breached EU directives and the 40-year-old father of five should receive compensation despite the ‘public revulsion’.
Delaney was a passenger in a speeding £80,000 Mercedes roadster driven by a fellow drug dealer who overtook on a bend and ploughed into a car carrying a family.
Ruling: A judge at the High Court said Delaney is entitled to compensation
Peter and Lisa Houston and their three children all suffered serious injuries as well but were awarded only £20,000 between them.
In the judgment at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Jay said: ‘Many readers may be wondering how it comes about that a drug dealer is entitled to compensation against Her Majesty’s Government in circumstances where he was injured during the course of a criminal joint enterprise.
‘The understandable reaction might be: There must be some rule of public policy, reflecting public revulsion, which bars such a claim. The short answer is that there is not.’
Delaney, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, suffered fractures, ruptured organs, amnesia and ‘intellectual blunting’ in the November 2006 crash near Nuneaton.
Mr Justice Jay said: 'Readers might think: There must be a rule reflecting public revulsion which bars such a claim. There is not'
When he and the driver, Shane Pickett, were cut free from the wreckage, a small package of cannabis was found hidden in Pickett’s sock and a block the size of a football in Delaney’s bomber jacket.
Pickett was jailed for ten months for dangerous driving and possessing cannabis. No action was taken against Delaney, probably because of the severity of his injuries.
He demanded compensation from Pickett’s insurers but they invoked an exclusion clause in that Pickett was under the influence of cannabis and driving dangerously.
Delaney’s lawyers sued the Secretary of State for Transport, claiming the exclusion under a clause of the UK Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement was incompatible with the 2009 European Motor Insurance Directive which, in the interests of standardisation, allows no exclusions. The 1999 agreement helps innocent victims of uninsured drivers obtain compensation.
In 2011 the Court of Appeal found against Delaney saying he would, or should, have known the Mercedes was being used for ‘the furtherance of crime’.
But yesterday Mr Justice Jay ruled in his favour, saying the Department’s failure to ensure uniformity between UK law and the EU directives was ‘so serious that ... it must pay compensation to Mr Delaney’.
The court found the illegality involved in the journey itself was merely ‘scene setting’ and not the cause of the accident.
But Delaney’s Tory MP Dan Byles said: ‘I’m sure I speak for the majority of my constituents who would be horrified that a drug dealer is getting extremely large amounts of taxpayers’ money for what is essentially a self-inflicted injury. It seems highly unfair.’
Dominic Raab, the eurosceptic Tory MP for Esher and Walton, said it was absurd ‘criminals can sue the government at huge taxpayers’ expense for harm suffered in the course of committing their crimes’.
He said it added ‘insult to injury that this nonsense is being forced on us by Brussels contrary to all notions of basic democratic accountability’.
Accident: Delaney was being driven in a 'flashy' Mercedes SL 500 (left, posed by model) when it crashed. On rescuing him, emergency services found 240 grams of cannabis (right, file photo)
The amount of compensation the Department must now pay Delaney will be assessed at a later date, but millions are routinely awarded in cases of such serious injury.
The Houston family, from Exhall, near Bedworth, were hospitalised after the crash with broken bones, collapsed lungs and bruised kidneys. Yesterday Mr Houston said he was surprised by the judgment.
‘If Delaney is getting multi millions then it is quite disappointing when we didn’t get anything near that,’ said the salesman.
‘It seems stupid that the loophole is allowed to exist and the EU law allows him to get that money.’
The family received a new car on top of their compensation, which came from a pot built up by the Motor Insurers Bureau under the uninsured drivers agreement.
When approached at his semi-detached home, Delaney claimed he had not heard about his court victory.
‘All I can say is I’m in shock,’ he said. ‘I haven’t been able to work for eight years because apparently I’ve got a brain injury. I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong but apparently there is.’
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘We thought that the directive was drafted in a wide-enough way to allow governments some autonomy. We are considering an appeal.’