Eighteen years on the run from £2m Fraud case ends in suspended sentence
In 1996 Moss and Co represented a client who was accused of conspiracy to defraud. The case was prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office and over £7,000,000 was at risk with £2,000,000 actually obtained. Our client absconded prior to the fraud trial and our papers went into archives. The solicitor who dealt with the case passed on.
Nearly eighteen years later we received a call from the Crown Court to say that our client was in the cells. They could tell us little other than it was “an old fraud case”. We arranged representation and unsurprisingly our client was remanded in custody. We did not make a bail application
The most pressing issue was bail. Our client had lived and travelled openly over the whole period. He was now much older than before, his health was poor, and he was in gaol cut off from family support. The prospects of obtaining bail looked slim; why would a court grant a man bail who had evaded justice for so long?
However Keith Hollywood who was conducting the case went to work. He got medical evidence referring to the clients declining health and a transcript of the sentencing at the 1997 trial; he contacted relatives to provide accommodation and stand a modest surety. His most difficult task was to persuade the client to delay going back to court until the very best possible application for bail could be made. Defendants have one shot at bail and unless there is a dramatic change in circumstances no further applications can be made.
Against the odds, but because of Keith’s hard work, bail was granted subject to strict conditions of residence and reporting. Moss & Co then prepared the case for trial. The prospects of a Not Guilty verdict were good. The client would be tried alone; the matter was stale as would be the witnesses’ memory. The client was adamant he had done no wrong and had not acted dishonestly, which was in this case a complete defence.
However the matter had been hanging over him for many years, the sentences passed on his co-defendants had been lighter than expected. They had been sentenced in the 1990’s when white collar crime did not attract long sentences. He decided to “get the matter over with”. We persuaded the Crown to substitute a single offence of obtaining by deception for the conspiracy charge and he entered his guilty plea.
We presented mitigation and medical evidence on his behalf. We argued that he should be sentenced in the same way as his co-defendants in 1997. To our client’s great relief the Judge suspended the 8 month prison sentence for one year and made no order for costs.
Keith Hollywood one of our fraud and crime experts did this case.