Two Great Moments in Jurisprudence

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We’ve got two terrific stories here – one of a guy who didn’t pay for a £2.70 train ticket but reeked of unemployability, and a London accountant who stole £360,000 from her employer, which they only discovered while she was being paid for maternity leave.

Guess which one went to jail?

The Sun: A passenger was yesterday revealed to have been jailed for three weeks for not paying his £2.70 train fare.  The punishment handed down by magistrates was exposed as Bradley Howsego, 22, was freed at an appeal.

Howsego was caught by a ticket inspector on a train from Hythe in Colchester, Essex to the town centre. He owned up to having “bunked” the fare. Train operator Greater Anglia accused him of being a serial fare dodger. Chelmsford JPs caged him after being told he had been nabbed six times. But the appeal at the town’s crown court heard of only two previous instances of him being caught without a ticket.  Each time he had agreed to pay an on-the-spot fine.

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I’ll admit there must be some satisfaction in jailing chavs generally, especially ones with such out of control haircuts.  Chelmsford is full of them.  But surely we can find better reasons to jail them than a £2.70 train fare?  Isn’t that what these egregious fines are for – or are they just for catching people for buying the wrong ticket from a range of confusing ones from a shithouse 1980s coin-operated RD-D2 that doesn’t give change?

Great Anglia, as a rule, should be paying people to ride their shitty trains.  As always, the lesson is, don’t live in the East of the country, and don’t use railways.

Now, with that kind of judicial vigilance, what do you think the accountant who stole three hundred and fifty grand got?

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Evening Standard:  An accountant who stole £350,000 from her employers to feed her gambling addiction walked free after a judge said she was “not the general stuff of which the prison population is made”.  Natalie Saul, 37, pilfered the money from technology firm Idio’s accounts over a year and blew more than £250,000 playing online poker.  The mother-of-one submitted more than 400 fake invoices to get the cash from the software company between March 2015 and December 2016.

Saul was given a two-year suspended sentence and 250 hours unpaid work by Judge Catherine Newman, QC, who said her sentence was “wholly exceptional” and fell outside sentencing guidelines.  

Lucie Daniels, defending Saul, had argued she was “shaken” by the loss of her grandmother in 2013 and was a committed charity worker.  “This offending is so out of character, she has worked hard and paid her taxes and been a responsible citizen,” said Ms Daniels.

The court heard Saul used her role as office manager to create fake invoices to pay cash into her own bank account before switching the details to avoid detection.  She was only caught when she went on maternity leave in December 2016 and a new chief financial office took over and spotted hundreds of fake invoices. It was only after she was challenged by the company that she confessed her crimes, and pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. 

Judge Newman said: “It has caused considerable harm to your employer which could ill afford to lose such a substantial sum, but thankfully survived. Your grandmother’s death rocked the stability of your hitherto good citizenship.  I’m prepared to take the wholly exceptional course of reducing your sentence and suspend it.”

She was ordered to pay just £360 costs, a little over £1 for every £1000 she stole from her company.

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Oh, the death of the grandmother excuse!  What a tragedy to befall a 37 year old professional.  How could you possibly recover from that, other than by stealing £350,000 from your employer?  Imagine dealing with that trauma while you painstakingly prepared 400 invoices over 12 months, transferred the money to yourself, and then edited the invoices.  It must have been harrowing.

Thank god you were able to almost make the company whole with your massive £360 contribution. That was probably what it was costing them to pay you daily while you were on maternity leave.

You’ve got to love the quote from Justice Newman: you are “not the general stuff of which the prison population is made”.  I’m sure there are many imprisoned who will be thrilled to know that being gambling addicts who steal money, they do not belong in prison.

Like everywhere in the world, Britain has a ridiculously inconsistent court system that bends over backward for people who can afford well paid attorneys to develop sob stories that normal people face everyday without stealing half a million dollars because they know they can get them by a judge whose other life is either wine bar ornament or cat lady.

A US study recently showed that Ponzi scheme operators who collectively stole more than $100 million in 2016 were sentenced to 21 days for each $1 million stolen.  By comparison, sentences for robbery were an average of 9.75 years with a median loss of $2,989, which works out to about 40,000 months in prison for each $1 million stolen.  In other words, robbers served 50,000 time more time per dollar than your average financial fraudster.

As always, the lesson is – do whatever you can to not be poor.  It will help you get that suspended sentence.

 

 

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