A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to 240 hours community service, in lieu of a two-year jail term, after pleading guilty to attempted deception in a case relating to insurance fraud.

Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard that Barry Hynes crashed a car into a taxi, carrying four people he knew, in October 2014.

Mr Hynes, with an address at 40 Cullairbaun, Athenry, Co Galway, admitted his role and co-operated fully with the investigation.

The court heard that he was in financial difficulties prior to the incident and had debts to service.

His defending barrister told Judge Rory McCabe that he was approached by a man, described as "the arranger", and was given a sum of money to cover his involvement in the scam.

They hatched a plan to rear-end a taxi carrying passengers, who were described as close friends and relatives of Mr Hynes.

They subsequently lodged personal injury claims against FBD, the company that had insured the car the accused was driving.

Mr Hynes had taken out the policy weeks earlier and evidence was given that "the arranger" had been involved in organising insurance cover for the 1997 Volkswagen Passat.

The protagonists had agreed to meet in Claregalway on 16 October. Judge McCabe was told there had been 15 phone calls between Mr Hynes and the mastermind of the fraud in the lead up to the staged crash.

Mr Hynes initially got nervous and lost track of the vehicle he planned to rear-end.

His defence counsel told Judge McCabe that the accused was "strongly bullied" to undertake a second journey later that night.

The collision at Carnmore Cross was described as a "nudge" and resulted in no damage to the vehicle.

When FBD investigated the matter, contact between the claimants on social media was detected.

Mr Hynes ultimately made a full admission about the attempted deception. No compensation has been paid out.

A garda investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Judge Rory McCabe said that this was a planned attempt to defraud the insurance company in order to generate false personal injury claims.

Given the premeditated profit motive, he said each party involved shared blame.

The judge said many people had experienced financial difficulties as a result of the recession but not all of them decided to engage in criminally dishonest conduct to deal with it.

He said all drivers paid the cost for such claims and that deterrent had to be a factor in sentencing.

Taking into account mitigating factors, such as a guilty plea and a low risk of re-offending, he imposed 240 hours of community service, in lieu of a two-year prison term.

In a statement afterwards, FBD Chief Claims Officer Jackie McMahon said: "Our customers end up paying for fraud unless we defend these claims in the strongest possible way.

"This conviction sends a clear signal that the courts do not allow insurance fraud and that it is not an easy way to cheat other people."