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Sexual Offence Successes

Fraud Offence Successes

MTM sets the record straight in fraud case

Attention to detail and sheer doggedness are pre-requisites for a good defence firm. In a case involving detailed correspondence with a retired seaman's pension company, MTM acted for a client who was charged with a DSS fraud of nearly £8000. 

The client had been assured by the pension company in early 2012 that they would contact HMRC on his behalf when the pension was paid.  Our client was subsequently told by the DSS (in 2014) that he had been claiming benefits falsely over the intervening two-year period because he had not divulged the pension to HMRC.

Although our client's position was quite clear – he had been advised that the pension company would contact the DSS – specialist fraud investigators from the DSS had examined the whole case and all attendant paperwork, and had found no record of that. Consequently, it now appeared that there was nothing to support our client's position.

The MTM legal team swung into action to investigate the matter right down to the very last detail. Diligent and persistent communication with the pension company eventually led to the uncovering of a direct communication from them to HMRC, advising them of our client's pension.  MTM quickly advised the Procurator Fiscal who agreed that a prosecution was untenable in the circumstances and that the case should be discontinued. 

Client in fraud case serves 5 months - as opposed to a potential 8-year sentence

In an access to work case, a deaf and dumb client had been entitled to sign language interpreters for a business start-up. The suggestion was he and his wife had abused the system. The original charge was that they had accrued some £600,000 pounds of benefits to which they were not entitled.

After painstaking investigation and going through many claim forms, the husband eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of having obtained £80,000 unlawfully, and, as a result, a period of imprisonment of 20 months was imposed.  He would ordinarily have served half of that 10-month period, but, in fact, he served only 5 months and was released on a home detention curfew.  He could have received anything up to 8 years imprisonment if he had been convicted of a fraud involving hundreds of thousands of pounds as in the original charge.  MTM’s investigation and advocacy reduced the charge which enabled him and his wife to keep their family home. His wife was acquitted of any charge.

Behind-the-scenes research reveals the truth in complex fraud case

Things are so often not what they seem to be on the surface. This was demonstrated in a case in Central Scotland in which nearly £30,000 of benefit fraud was committed over 4 years, and allegedly involved a person who was working and yet receiving these benefits.

The Crown was persuaded to drop the prosecution as the application for benefit had been made in the name of the alleged perpetrator but by another party. It was this party that had banked the money received. The amount of money involved would have meant a custodial sentence of up to 12 months upon conviction; this was avoided by MTM's work out of court. The future prospects and career of the young man who was caught up in the case would have been destroyed too.Analysis of paperwork was at the heart of this case. Behind the scenes research revealed that the accused could not possibly have made the applications himself. He had been entitled to the benefits for a period of time, but others had subsequently applied and benefited on his behalf and without his knowledge. There had been no collusion on the part of person accused of the fraud: others had simply exploited his situation to derive benefits after the period of his entitlement to benefits had lapsed.

MTM sets the record straight in fraud and pension case

Attention to detail and sheer doggedness are pre-requisites for a good defence firm. In a case involving detailed correspondence with a retired seaman's pension company, MTM acted for a client who was charged with a DSS fraud of nearly £8000.

The client had been assured by the pension company in early 2012 that they would contact HMRC on his behalf when the pension was paid. Our client was subsequently told by the DSS (in 2014) that he had been claiming benefits falsely over the intervening two-year period because he had not divulged the pension to HMRC.

Although our client's position was quite clear – he had been advised that the pension company would contact the DSS – specialist fraud investigators from the DSS had examined the whole case and all attendant paperwork, and had found no record of that. Consequently, it now appeared that there was nothing to support our client's position.

The MTM legal team swung into action to investigate the matter right down to the very last detail. Diligent and persistent communication with the pension company eventually led to the uncovering of a direct communication from them to HMRC, advising them of our client's pension. MTM quickly advised the Procurator Fiscal who agreed that a prosecution was untenable in the circumstances and that the case should be discontinued. 

MTM untangles financial process to get client acquittal in serious fraud case

Defending financial cases is not just a matter of legal skill: it is also about mastering complex financial issues and understanding how complicated deals and products are structured.

MTM has extensive experience in this challenging area of criminal law and has recently secured the acquittal of a client in relation to a serious charge of a £40,000 fraud against a mortgage company. A five-day Jury trial ended in our client being acquitted thanks to thorough research by the MTM legal team, the team’s extensive knowledge of the law of fraud and painstaking examination of a welter of financial documents.

MTM wins complicated fraud case using expert financial product knowledge

MTM has acted to defend a client charged with a £400,000 financial fraud. The case took months and involved careful preparation and detailed understanding of financial products – a particular area of expertise for MTM. The firm also has highly developed expertise in challenging expert prosecution witnesses in such cases. The client was found not guilty.

 

Drug Offence Successes

Experience secures unanimous acquittal in 4 day supply of controlled drugs trial

 MTM secured a unanimous acquittal in a case which involved challenging a Crown expert and attacking police expert evidence that the circumstances were consistent with the client being involved in drug dealing.  The 4 day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court underlined the value of experience: a seasoned lawyer knows how to challenge evidence. This case involved a high-profile businessman from Dundee.  Expert knowledge regarding quantities of drugs and arrangements relating to supply of drugs was critical to MTM winning the case, as well as the firm's vast experience in challenging prosecution experts in such cases.

MTM gets a result in Stornoway supply of drugs case

A Stornoway man was accused of being involved in the supply of a Class A drugs. The courts in this island-community part of Scotland take supply of drugs very seriously and are highly protective of their locality.  The client had been asked to hold on to, or effectively store, a package of drugs, on behalf of someone else. He had then subsequently gone to the police and given himself up, but they refused to believe him.  However some two weeks later they came out to search his house and found the drugs.

 This was a highly unusual case in that the client had confessed his involvement to the police.  The location was remote and involved all three senior members of the MTM team going up to the Stornoway on a number of occasions to pursue the case and gather all the details.  We also met the Prosecutor and got him to agree the circumstances of our client's position and involvement – and it was this that saved him.  He was acquitted of the charge.

Successful appeal in the High Court. 18 months sentence reduced to time served

This was an appeal against conviction and sentence and was in respect of a grandmother who was previously employed as a drugs support worker.  The case attracted a good deal of media attention as she was convicted of being concerned in the supply of drugs.  There was an appeal against the conviction on the basis that the police expert did not have sufficient expertise to provide opinion evidence.  MTM carried out detailed research into the expert and where they got their information from – a common theme in MTM's work.

Ultimately, the appeal against conviction was unsuccessful: the court took the view that the prosecution expert was competent and the conviction remained.  MTM then focused on the sentence itself.  MTM delved into the particular circumstances of the accused and gathered information about her family commitments, her good character and other references.  It meant that we were able to persuade the court to quash the sentence from 18 months imprisonment to the time she had spent already in custody, which was about two and a half months.  Although, we did not win the overall appeal, we nevertheless managed to secure the client's immediate release and save her from serving the remainder of the sentence – some 15 and a half months.

This case illustrated MTM's attention to detail and its commitment to keep going to get the best possible outcome for a client. This often involves 'riding two horses at the same time'; in this instance trying to get the original conviction overturned and at the same time seeking to ensure, if that was not possible, that the sentence would be much reduced, or, as in this case, quashed.  The client regained her liberty immediately.

Incidentally too,  before the trial started the Crown had libelled a number of additional charges that they could not hope to prove, but which they thought would influence the jury.  MTM lodged a minute stating that the conduct was oppressive and the Sheriff agreed – which meant they could not be considered.  This is all part of what MTM does on a daily basis to reduce the number and severity of charges against its clients.

MTM gets result in complicated drugs case

A 3 year drug case in Falkirk, involving a detailed investigation on the part of MTM, has finally been dropped by the prosecutor. In a case in which fingerprint evidence was excluded, the prosecution had to agree that some of the productions could not be used.

Experience secures unanimous acquittal in 4 day supply of controlled drugs trial

MTM has secured a unanimous acquittal in a case which involved challenging a Crown expert and attacking police expert evidence that the circumstances were consistent with the client being involved in drug dealing. The 4 day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court underlined the value of experience: a seasoned lawyer knows how to challenge evidence.

Client acquitted in serious drugs case

In statements in a case at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the police had said that they had tested some powder found on an accused person who had been prosecuted for possession of diamorphine (heroin). The sample had gone for testing and was found by the laboratory not to be heroin and also not an illegal substance. MTM’s client was acquitted of the charge.

Serious charge in High Court Class A drugs case dropped following successful advocacy

In a high-value Class A drugs surveillance case at the High Court, one of MTM’s Solicitor-Advocates has successfully acted on behalf of a client accused of having destroyed a mobile telephone SIM card.
The charge, a serious one of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, was dealt with by a member of the MTM team. Skilful advocacy from an MTM Solicitor-Advocate with long experience of such cases convinced the prosecutors to drop the charge.

Serious charge of supply leads to limited sentence thanks to expert advocacy

A client who pled guilty to his third supply of Class A drugs on Indictment, and who also has a summary conviction for supply of drugs, has received a limited sentence to only 27 months. This serious crime and charge would customarily result in a period of several years imprisonment; once again, expert defence led to a much reduced sentence.

MTM use Human Rights legal knowledge to out-manoeuvre prosecution team in serious drugs case

A very serious drugs case at Glasgow Sheriff Court has been discontinued by the Crown after MTM used its expertise in the area of Human Rights Law criminal procedure to seize the advantage and put the prosecution team on the back foot.
The case was one in which it was alleged that an MTM client had been concerned in the supply of heroin. MTM had been seeking information that included the details of an alleged confession made by our client – information that had not been disclosed by the Prosecutor’s Office to the MTM defence team. In all cases, the prosecution is under a duty to disclose information to the defence which is relevant to the prosecution, particularly in evidence they may intend to use at trial.
As a result of the lack of disclosure, one of our Solicitor Advocates drafted a “Devolution Issue Minute” which was lodged with the Court. The Court agreed to appoint a debate for the Devolution Issue Minute to be considered. Had the Minute been successful then the whole proceedings would have been thrown out by the Sheriff. As it happened the Procurator Fiscal instead decided to discontinue the proceedings against our client instead of waiting for the Sheriff’s decision.

MTM secures short sentence in supply of Class A drugs case – despite aggravating circumstances

Failing to attend Court is in itself a very serious charge. MTM has represented a client who failed to attend a preliminary hearing at Edinburgh High Court in relation to a charge of supplying a Class A drug, itself a serious offence and one for which the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
Following his failure to attend, a warrant was issued for his arrest and he pled guilty to a charge of failing to attend at Court under Section 102 (A) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. One of MTM’s Solicitor Advocates represented him in these proceedings which took place at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. MTM was able to persuade the Sheriff to limit the period of imprisonment imposed to only two months which was a particularly exceptional result for the client.

Acquittal secured in serious drugs case involving charges of supply of controlled drugs

At Stirling Sheriff Court, MTM secured a client’s acquittal relating to two charges under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, Section 4(3)(b), for being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.
At the Sheriff and Jury trial, we were able to persuade the Procurator Fiscal to reduce these very serious charges to a simple charge of being in possession of the controlled drug, and the client was simply given a small fine. Careful negotiation with the Procurator Fiscal behind the scenes led to the best possible result for our client. The outcome demonstrates that not all cases require us to go to trial to have cases against a client reduced from a very serious level down to a low level.

Detailed MTM research in drugs case leads to minor fine for client rather than a custodial sentence

An MTM client who pled guilty to a very serious charge of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs has received a small fine rather than a custodial sentence.
The client had been found in possession of drugs to an estimated value of just under £700. Detailed research by a member of the MTM legal defence team discovered exceptional circumstances which allowed the Sheriff to take the view that this was a case which could be dealt with by imposing only a minor fine.
In the usual run of things, a person convicted of supplying controlled drugs would face a prison sentence; in this case, the diligence of MTM saved the client from that eventuality.

Sexual Offence Successes

Social media audit trail leads to acquittal in sexual assault case

A young man accused of a sexual assault, with intent to rape, on a schoolgirl was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict at Falkirk Sheriff Court.  Each of the people in the case was a youngster and they knew each other socially. 

Facebook records were used to track the nature of the relationship between them, in a case which involved detailed analysis of social media communications.  Again, this case illustrated MTM's forensic approach to events and communications, which revealed the true state of affairs between the two people involved in this case and safeguarded the liberty and the reputation of the young man.

Client avoids 5-year custodial sentence in downloading and possession of indecent images case

This was a case involving a client charged with downloading and possession of indecent images of children. His position was that the images were put on his computer because it was not password protected and he used to have gatherings of friends at his house.  He denied knowledge of the images and of having downloaded them. 

Martin Morrow of MTM met the Crown investigators and examined the history of the downloads.  He was able to establish that the downloads had come through in batches and on certain days of the week – and that they had not been opened.  The question was why had the person not opened them.  It might be that, if they are not the home-owner, they would have a very limited window of time to access the images; if they were the home-owner, they would of course have plenty of time to do so. The client was then charged with the alternative charge of being in possession of these items and the Crown case was that he had downloaded them, and by downloading them he was in possession of them.  MTM's position was that the client did not download them and did not know that they were there because we investigated and found that a file had been created inside the computer.  It was the only file that had been created within the last four years, so it was clearly a variation in pattern.  Bizarrely, the court acquitted him of the more serious charge of downloading but convicted him of possession.

MTM knocked out the main charge of downloading and then invited the judge not to sentence the client at all. The judge put the client on the sexual offenders' register for a one-week period only and fined him. The judge clearly felt that he had to give the client some kind of sentence despite the illogicality of the jury's conviction on the lesser charge of possession.  The critical element in this case was MTM's focus on examining the time-frame behind the downloads in this case and establishing that they were not looked at.  All the evidence pointed to the fact that the client had not downloaded the files, and, critically, did not know that they were there and had not looked at them.  The judge's decision reflected this, and it was why he did not give the client a custodial sentence for the possession charge on which the jury had (illogically) convicted the client.  The end result was that the client faced only a small fine instead of a 5-year custodial sentence.

As a footnote to this complicated case, the client did not appeal because he did not have legal insurance and the costs in terms of expert witnesses and time associated with pursuing the case would have been too high.  If he had had insurance, MTM would have been able to pursue the appeal and is confident that the much reduced conviction itself would have been overturned. 

Successful appeal against sentence for client in high-profile case

 In a highly unusual and high-profile case, a senior civil servant accused and convicted of voyeurism received a custodial sentence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. MTM was brought in to appeal the sentence, which was reduced to a community payback order.  The case achieved a particular prominence not only because of the nature of the multiple offences, but also, perhaps even more importantly, that the person in question was a senior adviser to the Scottish Government.

The crime had involved the accused taking so-called 'up-skirt' photographs of women using his phone over a period of several months, at two busy and well known locations – Waverley Railway Station in Edinburgh and Buchanan Galleries shopping mall in Glasgow.

By its nature, an appeal indicates that there has been a miscarriage of justice. At MTM, we thought the Sheriff had got the original sentence wrong; more importantly, we were able to convince appeal judges that the original sentence was wrong.  The case illustrated the91 realities of dealing with difficult cases, which always require due diligence and the persistence to see things through to the end.

MTM secures acquittal in sexual offences case in Edinburgh High Court

A good defence team will challenge evidence at every turn. This nowhere more important than in cases involving sexual offences, where generally there are only two people present and no other witnesses. Establishing what really happened, and getting the jury to consider if the evidence against the accused really is incontrovertible, is of vital importance.

In a case involving two young people, the accused and the alleged victim, MTM persuaded the jury that the behaviour of the victim was inconsistent with her having been subjected to a serious physical trauma. The jury could not be certain beyond reasonable doubt, and they decided to acquit. In this case, the accused could have been convicted of an alternative charge of sex with an under-age person; in the end, the jury decided that they could not be certain that any offence had been committed. MTM's client's reputation was upheld and he avoided a term of 5 – 6 years imprisonment

Social media audit trail leads to acquittal in sexual assault case

A young man accused of a sexual assault, with intent to rape, on a schoolgirl was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict at Falkirk Sheriff Court. Each of the people in the case was a youngster and they knew each other socially. Facebook records were used to track the nature of the relationship between them, in a case which involved detailed analysis of social media communications.

MTM highlights previous false complaints in sexual assault case

Being accused of a serious sexual assault is devastating. It is the job of the defence team to ensure that allegations are properly sifted at all stages.  In a jury case, MTM successfully investigated previous false complaints made by the complainer or alleged victim in the case.  Careful cross-examination revealed the nature and extent of these previous false complaints or allegations.  It all led to MTM's defence team being able to persuade the court that the alleged victim was not being truthful.  Our client was acquitted of the charge.

MTM successfully challenges relevancy of charge

An MTM client, who was charged on a summary complaint with breaching the Sexual Offences Act 2003, has had the case against him thrown out. This very serious charge may well have resulted in a sentence of imprisonment.
A close examination of the charge against the client resulted in MTM identifying a legal flaw in the drafting of the charge on the complaint. MTM moved quickly to challenge the relevancy of the charge at a legal debate in the Sheriff Court. So effective was the challenge that the Sheriff was successfully persuaded that the complaint should be dismissed because of the drafting error in the charge. It is one thing to identify a legal error, and another to persuade in a debate – MTM was able to achieve both, and get the case thrown out on a legal technicality thanks to its attention to detail and powers of persuasion.

Reputation is all – and so is expertise

Two MTM clients have been cleared on the same day of two serious charges at Falkirk Sheriff Court.
In the first case, the client was charged with a serious sexual offence. If he had been convicted he would have almost certainly have faced imprisonment and his name entered on the Sex Offenders Register. The client had no history of sexual offending.
Such cases are a difficult area of the law and some of the most sensitive. The potential damage to reputation is almost incalculable – from personal relationships to work and social life. Skilful cross-examination of the complainer in the case by the MTM team led to the Procurator Fiscal deciding to abandon the prosecution.
In the second case, a client, who had been remanded in custody to await trial, was found not guilty of an alleged serious dishonesty offence under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The client, who had no previous convictions for dishonesty, would have faced many months of imprisonment had they been convicted.
Each case illustrates the power of professional knowledge and the value of skilful advocacy. There is another point to all this too: MTM is on the side of its clients, often when no-one else is.

Sheriff Court acquittals

Acquittals so far this month in the Sheriff Court include charges of assault, domestic assault, breach of the peace, and sexual offences under the Criminal Law Act 1995.

MTM gets acquittal despite eye-witnesses' evidence

An MTM client has been acquitted of two very serious sexual offences at a Sheriff & Jury trial. This is the result of a thorough investigation of the prosecution evidence and extensive preparation of the defence case over a period of about a year, and then expert cross-examination and advocacy in court.
Had the client been convicted, the maximum sentence was five years imprisonment. The acquittal was despite the evidence of various eye-witnesses who gave evidence that he had committed the offences.

MTM investigates – and gets a result without going to court.

MTM has succeeded in persuading the Crown to discontinue a prosecution for Rape and Serious Assault at Glasgow High Court. MTM, assisted by a leading QC, conducted a detailed analysis of the prosecution evidence over many months. The significant inconsistencies uncovered in the alleged victim's statements, which were sent to the Crown, led to the Crown being persuaded to drop the prosecution.

MTM wins rape case in the High Court in Glasgow

MTM has successfully defended a client, who was accused of rape, in the High Court in Glasgow. It is another example of a difficult case where professional legal expertise is of paramount importance: rape is one of the most serious crimes that a person can be accused of, with huge implications for a person's reputation and future.