R v Troy Wood
On 22 September, following a successful joint public and private prosecution, Mr Wood was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for offences of fraud, theft and perverting the course of justice.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon represented Provident Personal Credit, for whom Mr Wood had acted as a loans agent, a position involving a considerable amount of trust, both on behalf of the company, and the customers that Mr Wood dealt with.
Between September 2015 and February 2016, Mr Wood abused that position of trust by taking out a number of loans for his own benefit, using the details of existing customers without their knowledge, to the value of £23,000. There was clear evidence that Mr Wood had falsified loan applications and in one instance failed to bank a customer’s repayments, keeping them for his personal use.
Despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the offences, Mr Wood initially pleaded not guilty to the charges of fraud and theft, citing that half of the customers were lying. Mr Wood accepted that he did take out loans in the names of the other customers, however, he did so under the duress of 3 of the complainants.
Mr Wood went as far as to make an allegation to the Norfolk Police that he was the victim of blackmail, provided a witness statement outlining that the threats had started in November 2015 and stopped in February 2016, coinciding with the period of the fraud indictment. He claimed that the threats had started again in February 2017 over Facebook, and that his car had been vandalised which he believed was the action of the 3 complainants.
A few days after Mr Wood made the complaint the police received a phone call from Mr Wood’s partner who believed Mr Wood had been kidnapped. A 999 call later followed from Mr Wood himself reporting that he had been driven at knife point to a remote area, his legs were bound, he had been taped to the driver’s seat and his hands cable tied to the steering wheel. The alleged perpetrators of the kidnapping had demanded £5,000 for his release.
A police investigation ensued which involved the arrest of one alleged suspect who was arrested, interviewed under caution and held in custody for over 6 hours. A full forensic examination of Mr Wood’s vehicle was undertaken at considerable cost to the police and enquiries of the provenance of the Facebook accounts were also completed. Enquiries revealed that the accounts had been set up at the IP address attached to Mr Wood’s home address. One alleged suspect who Mr Wood had blamed for the kidnapping had left the country months prior to the incident and the suspect arrested did not have a Facebook account or know how to use one.
Mr Wood was arrested and interviewed for perverting the course of justice and wasting police time. In interview he admitted that he had created the Facebook accounts, smashed his own car window and entirely fabricated the kidnapping. He later changed his plea to guilty in respect of the fraud and theft offences.
Mr Wood’s sentence of 4 years (2 years for the Fraud and 2 years for the Perverting) reflects the seriousness of such offences. Mr Wood abused his position of trust and put potentially vulnerable customers at risk. He then wasted police time and resources by attempting to create a viable cover story. By claiming duress he put innocent people at risk of significant imprisonment should they have been prosecuted for the blackmail allegations he had fabricated.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon are very grateful for the excellent investigation undertaken by the Norfolk Constabulary and this collaboration between private and public prosecutors ensured Mr Wood’s crimes were properly prosecuted.