A MARTIAL arts instructor has been jailed for three years after conning people out of more than £180,000 in a insurance scam.

Paul Griffin of Princes Avenue, Corringham, a 7th level Dan black belt, ran the British National Martial Arts Association from his home.

But Griffin, who has trained several martial arts champions and been involved in television shows about the sport, was the brains behind a four-year long con.

He began organising insurance for members of the Derby-based Amateur Martial Association in 2001.

The insurance is required by law for people taking part in the sport in case they or anyone they fight is seriously injured.

But between 2001 and 2004, instead of arranging full insurance cover for the association’s 60,000 or more members, he didn’t bother and pocketed the cash.

Griffin pocketed £182,386 in fees and his scam meant thousands of people taking part in the sport would not have been insured if they caused or suffered serious injury.

Derby Crown Court heard the association became suspicious of Griffin after members made several queries about their insurance policies.

The AMA also made several unsuccessful attempted to contact him.

They called in police and Griffin’s con was uncovered.

After a complex four-year investigation Griffin finally pleaded guilty to theft and was jailed for three years.

Investigating officer Sgt Matt Carson of Derbyshire police welcomed the sentence.

He said: “This was a long and laborious case to prove, so it is satisfying the people involved now have at least some sort of sense of justice. One of the biggest challenges was going through all the data we received and recovered.

“This included all the information and details of members of the AMA that had been sent through to Griffin to be underwritten.

“This was a mammoth task as all the records were held on hard copy and had to be inputted one by one. An analysis then had to be done to see who was and wasn’t covered.

“The most worrying thing about the case was that of the 63,369 members put through by the AMA to Griffin, 60,281 were not insured or insured correctly, which meant they had no cover at all.”

Judge Robert Brown said Griffin’s actions had put thousands of martial arts students and instructors at serious risk of injury for which they would not be covered.