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May 14th 2021

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Two more Post Office Horizon convictions overturned in court

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

Two more Post Office Horizon convictions overturned in court

Another two former subpostmasters today had their criminal convictions relating to the Post Office Horizon scandal quashed.

Another two former subpostmasters today had their criminal convictions relating to the Post Office Horizon scandal quashed.

With 45 former subpostmasters already having had convictions linked to branch shortfalls quashed by the courts, the Post Office last week announced it is contacting a further 540 former workers potentially convicted using flawed financial computer evidence.

Now, the convictions of Oyeteju Adedayo and Parmod Kalia have also been quashed.

Like others, both were coerced into pleading guilty to crimes they’d not committed, but such was the pressure placed upon them, they each ‘made up’ stories as to how they had spent the ‘missing’ money.

For that reason the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) warned it was initially minded to reject their cases when considering them last year.

However, following further submissions from their legal representatives at Hudgell Solicitors and Doughty Street Chambers, their cases were finally referred for consideration and not opposed by the Post Office ahead of the hearing today.

‘I’ve been to hell and back and thought about ending it all many times’

Speaking after today’s hearing at Southwark Crown Court, Mrs Adedayo said she and her family had been ‘to hell and back’ over the past 15 years, ‘living with the shame’ of her conviction for stealing £50,000 from the community Post Office she ran in Kent.

She was handed a 50-week sentence back in 2006, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours under a community punishment order for false accounting and theft.

Mrs Adedayo and her husband were forced to remortgage their family home to raise funds and repay the ‘missing’ £50,000, and she was left unable to find new work due to her criminal record.

On many occasions, she says she considered taking her own life.

“My family have been dragged to hell and back as a result of all this, so today is a very good day,” she said.

“I’ve been completely broken by this, particularly by how this has impacted on my family and the unbearable shame it has brought on us all, me being convicted of such crimes.

“I have thought about ending it all on many occasions. The shame has always been linked to me and I have always worried about how that impacted on our three children, who were all very young at the time. They have seen how it has destroyed our lives, and although it was never my fault, I have always felt ashamed that they had to go through all of this.

“I was devastated when the CCRC said my case was not being sent for appeal last year with the many others. I was always determined to fight on, and although I was still struggling to clear my name I was delighted for the others who were having success.

“I was delighted to see so many people I know have their convictions overturned last month. They are great people and nobody should be made to suffer like we have. I watched the news of people I now consider friends having their convictions overturned at the Court of Appeal with my family and my mum prayed for me and turned to me and said ‘it will be you next’.

“Then, days later, I got the call from my solicitors saying the Post Office were not contesting my case. I was overjoyed. There have been tears throughout the past 15 years, but this time they were tears of joy.

“I feel I can now finally look to move on from this. It has been so cruel to destroy the lives of so many people, not just us, but our families, our husbands, wives and children. It has all been so cruel.

“I want to thank everybody who has supported us, particularly our legal team, Alan Bates at the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), Kay Linnell, Ron Warmington and all the other subpostmasters who have stood together on this, especially Jo Hamilton, who has always been by my side, and was today.”

Jailed father-of-four kept his conviction secret from family members for 19 years

For Parmod Kalia, the quashing of his sentence is what he has always fought for, but it cannot take away the horror of spending three months in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

His conviction and sentence is something he has kept secret from the many of his family – including his mother – for the past 19 years, such his feeling of ‘shame and embarrassment’.

The father-of-four was accused of stealing £22,000 from the Post Office he’d run in Kent for 11 years, and says he was advised by his Federation representative to ‘put things right’ to avoid court proceedings.

That he did, borrowing £22,000 from his mother to ‘repay’ the missing amount within days, yet despite this, court proceedings were still started against him and he was encouraged to ‘make up a story’ as to where the money had gone.

It was all in vain. He was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court to six months in prison, for which he served three months in jail and three months at home on license.

“The only reason I ever said I had taken the money is because I was told that was my only option to avoid jail. I was told I needed to repay the money and make up a story as to where the £22,000 had gone,” he said.

“I was in a complete panic and so I made up a story. It was stupid, but I was under such intense pressure and I was desperate to avoid prison. Even then I was sent to jail. The whole experience was just appalling.

“It was something that brought great shame to my family, so much so that I did all I could to keep it from my relatives. At the time of my court appearance I arranged for my mother to visit family in India for a couple of months, so she was never aware that I was sent to prison. I think that would have killed her. She died in 2019 without ever knowing.

“Only my wife and four children knew I spent time in prison, and only now am I prepared to tell others in my family, as I no longer have a conviction by my name.

“My reputation in the community was destroyed. At the time I was a treasurer also for a local charity, and that was a position I lost. My life fell apart, causing many issues in my marriage and undue pressure and stress on my children and my wife.

“This has caused me emotional, mental and physical stress whereby I have attempted suicide on three occasions, and been scarred with physical disabilities, caused by all the stress I have had to endure.

“I wrote a letter addressed to Paula Vennels, who was chief executive of the Post Office at the time of all this, and she didn’t even bother to reply. I think that says it all.

“I’ve always tried to retain the belief that I’d get there in the end but when the CCRC rejected my case last year it was difficult. Thankfully, through persistence and good legal support, that decision was successfully challenged, and when the first convictions were overturned in December it gave me real hope.

“I was then due to hear if the Post Office was opposing my appeal last month, but it was delayed at their request. When I finally got the call to say they were not going to contest my case at court today it did feel like the end of a very long, difficult journey.

“I will never understand why this happened to us and why we have had to fight so long.”

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, has now helped 34 former subpostmasters clear their names, working alongside barristers Tim Moloney QC and Kate O’Raghallaigh of Doughty Street Chambers.

Speaking after today’s hearing, he said: “I’ve been delighted for each and every person who has had their convictions overturned so far, and especially today for Parmod and Oyeteju. They have had to retain the belief that their names would be cleared in the end, even though at times it seemed as though everything was going against them.

“I would particularly like to pay tribute to our Counsel team of Tim and Kate who prepared compelling submissions on behalf of both Oyeteju and Parmod that convinced the CCRC to overturn their initial assessment that these cases were not worthy of referral to the Court of Appeal.”

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