Post Office Horizon IT scandal: case of former Fleetwood branch operator goes back to court

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The case of a former Fleetwood sub-postmaster who was convicted of fraud more than a decade ago is being sent back to the courts as part of the fallout from the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

Thomas Mulhall ran the town’s Lord Street branch and pleaded guilty to a count of fraud by false representation in December 2012 at Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court. He was sentenced to a one-year community order obliging him to do 100 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £2,408 in costs.

However, his conviction is one of the latest to be referred to the Crown Court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) as a result of concerns about the faulty Horizon computer system.  

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The organisation has referred Mr. Mulhall's case - and four others - while awaiting government legislation that will automatically quash convictions relating to Horizon.

The case of a former Fleetwood sub-postmaster is heading back to court more than 11 years after he was convicted of fraudThe case of a former Fleetwood sub-postmaster is heading back to court more than 11 years after he was convicted of fraud
The case of a former Fleetwood sub-postmaster is heading back to court more than 11 years after he was convicted of fraud | unknown

Although already introduced in Parliament, it is not known exactly when the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill - will come into effect.   A referral to the courts means cases can be considered as quickly as possible.   The CCRC has now made 76 such referrals.

As of the end of February, 103 Horizon-based convictions have been overturned - including 10 cases in which the Post Office was not the prosecutor.

The Post Office has identified a total of 700 convictions in cases that it did prosecute between 1999 and 2015 which might have featured Horizon computer evidence.  

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If the CCRC refers a Horizon-related case to the Court of Appeal and that appeal is rejected, then the individual would not be covered by the government’s blanket conviction-quashing legislation.   However, they would still be eligible for such redress after a failed referral to the Crown Court.

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