The Money Shot – Stagging orders and intergalactic warfare

Cheeky stag
A cheeky stag, yesterday
"It was the most brazen feigning of injury seen on Tyneside since David Ginola was in his pomp"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Once upon a time, a stag night entailed a trip down the pub for a few jars of bitter, and perhaps a jaunt into town.

If they were feeling really hedonistic, the adventurous might be tempted by a big evening out in Blackpool, Scarborough or Brighton, followed by broken sleep in a cheap, mould-ridden B&B.

Then along came budget flights, paintball and grease wrestling, and stag weekends became a sort of ever-escalating, blokey arms race, with men going to ever-increasing lengths in the name of ‘banter’.

Suddenly it seemed that a trip down the Dog & Hammer to belt out Rod Stewart on karaoke followed by a madras wouldn’t suffice. Jollies to picturesque locations beyond the former iron curtain to terrorise locals and fire off Kalashnikovs in a controlled environment while dressed as Smurfs became de rigeur. The stag night – which has evolved into a full-on weekend – now demands feats of japery that Nero would baulk at.

Perhaps it’s this culture of manly one-upmanship that led to one of the most peculiar – and misguided - episodes of stag malarkey that the Money Shot has heard of.

In 2009, 13 men decided to stage a whiplash scam in order to give Newcastle man Stephen Paul (who we’re sure you’ll agree looks quite the charmer) a pre-marital send-off.

Paul and his motley crew had commandeered a minibus to take them to Edinburgh. Or so they said - they weren’t carrying any bags. Perhaps they were planning on just ‘pushing through’ the evening?

Shortly after departing, they were struck by a Peugeot near the Tyne Tunnel. After a 999 call, six ambulances carried the men – who were reportedly “laughing, smoking and chatting on mobile phones” - to hospital for neck and spine X-rays.

In the most brazen feigning of injury seen on Tyneside since David Ginola was in his pomp, the men then started to clutch their necks in agony on arrival, before going on to stage what witnesses called “a miraculous recovery”.

Aviva – whose claims team had smelled a rat – had to pay out £134,000 for the notoriously difficult-to-prove complaint. But the car insurance company began compiling a dossier of evidence against the posse.

Then came the key breakthrough – the insurer learned that the driver of the Peugeot, Ben LeBlond, was a friend of the stag. In 2011, the gang were arrested.

This week all the men involved – plus the passenger in the Peugeot – received suspended sentences, fines and community service, and said they “deeply regretted” the scam – as demonstrated by this picture of one of the men leaving court. Had anyone been injured or killed  then they would have been looking at a stretch inside.

It makes you wonder, really. If this is the extent folk will go to in order to get their last kicks as a singleton, married life must be really, really boring.

NEWS IN BRIEF

PPI claimbacks are providing an unexpected stimulus to the car market, with the Sun reporting that the average payout of over £2,000 is frequently being used as a deposit on a gleaming new set of wheels.

On the subject of cars, the PM has plans in store to make expensive motorway service stations display rivals’ prices, much like they do in France.

More petrol news – after a raid on the London HQs of BP and Shell, it transpires that fuel prices may have been fiddled for the past decade.

Fancy half an hour with the chief executive of Apple? It’ll cost you £395,000 – that’s the current bid for a charidee auction.

British Gas has deflected accusations of being an “evil empire” by its shareholders.

‘90s boy band 5ive have thrown their weight behind Experian’s Values, Money and Me financial education initiative, presumably to get the mums on board.

ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK

In a new series, country bumpkin turned city slicker Rachel England argued the toss with, er, herself over what’s best - rural or urban Britain? This month, transport is up for debate.

Rebecca Lees served up a few ideas of fun stuff to get up to in your caravan or campervan this summer. You can stop sniggering at the back.

The EHIC is quite good, but don’t go mistaking it for proper travel insurance, said Kristian Dando.

Credit cards might well be the best thing you take on holidays, providing you don’t go acting like a div with them.

AND FINALLY

‘Trouble’ flared this week when police were called in to quell as dispute between rival sci-fi factions at the University of East Anglia.

Fans of Star Wars and Doctor Who – presumably wielding imitation lightsabers and sonic screwdrivers – were involved in a dust-up at the Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention, organised by the Norwich Star Wars Club.

Tempers frayed after a member dressed in full Doctor Who garb received abuse from Star Wars fans. Police, who we can only imagine were stifling giggles at the whole sorry affair, were called in.

There’s a history of bad blood between the groups, but it would appear that talks are underway to resolve the situation. Dominic Warner, secretary of Norwich Star Wars Club, said: "It does sound comical. People that dress up in costume are labelled geeks and some people laugh at us, and this just makes it even more so."

Join us NEXT WEEK for another THRILLING instalment of THE MONEY SHOT.