R (Hunter Premium Worldwide Sourcing Limited) v Gerard Lawless and Angela Forde-Lawless:
On Friday 12th October 2018, following a 5 week trial at St Albans Crown Court, Gerard Lawless the former Financial Controller of Hunter Premium Worldwide Sourcing Limited “Hunter”, was unanimously found guilty of Fraud by abuse of position, (contrary to S.1 and S.4 of the Fraud Act 2006) and Theft, (contrary to S.1 of the Theft Act 1968.).
Gerard Lawless received a concurrent sentence on both counts of 7.5 and 5 years imprisonment and was disqualified as a Director for 10 years.
Summary of Case:
Between 2003-2013, Gerard Lawless stole in excess of £1.5 million from a group of companies owned by Vincent Tickel to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family, causing a substantial loss to the companies.
Vincent Tickel, the owner of Hunter, initially hired Mr Lawless in 1997 as an accountant to work for a number of companies he owned which led to a 15 year business and personal relationship based on trust and friendship.
Mr Lawless misappropriated monies from the companies by transferring money to his and his wife’s personal accounts, cashing company cheques to his personal account and using the company credit card for personal spending. Expenditure on the company credit card included purchasing golf trips abroad, expensive champagne and extravagant holidays for his family and friends. The extent of Mr Lawless’ spending contributed to one of the companies having to enter into voluntary liquidation in 2013. The scale of dishonesty displayed by Mr Lawless was described as “staggering in every aspect” by the judge when passing sentence.
The fraud was initially discovered when Mr Lawless’ company credit card statement was sent to the company’s office in Harpenden which came to the attention of Mr Tickel and the other directors. Following the discovery, Mr Lawless’ employment was terminated.
Mr Tickel instructed Edmonds Marshall McMahon to investigate and commence a private prosecution after the Hertfordshire Police cited difficulties committing resources to conduct a full investigation.
Following the trial, Mr Tickel said: “I am hugely thankful for the prosecuting barristers Gideon Cammerman QC and Henry Hughes for their care and skill during this exhaustive trial, and Tamlyn Edmonds and her team at Edmonds Marshall McMahon for their professionalism, care and persistence in prosecuting this case”.
Tamlyn Edmonds, Partner of Edmonds Marshall McMahon, who brought the prosecution said: “This lack of investigation, which is a common occurrence, is why so much financial fraud goes completely unpunished. It is only because the victim pursued a private prosecution that justice has now been served”.
The Hertfordshire Police said it was “implementing an immediate review to examine the circumstances surrounding the decisions made in November 2016 concerning this case”.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon was established in 2012 to conduct large scale, complex fraud cases and this case is typical of the cases Edmonds Marshall McMahon successfully conducts. It is the UK’s premier private prosecution firm and is staffed by experienced prosecution specialists providing unparalleled depth of knowledge, skill and experience.
The outstanding team that worked on this case included Tamlyn Edmonds (Partner), Matthew Edwards (Senior Associate), Marie-Claire Amuah (Associate), Jack Walsh (Senior Associate), Pippa Marshall (Paralegal) and Sebastian Canales (Paralegal).
Gavin Pearson of Quantuma LLP was instructed by EMM as an expert witness.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon