Julie Cleife was one of a group of former sub-postmasters and post-mistresses who were convicted of offences including theft, false accounting, and fraud, based on information from a computer system called Horizon which suggested that money had gone missing from post-office branch accounts. The basis of each of the prosecutions in these cases was that money missing from the branch account had been a result of theft by the sub-postmaster or mistress, or had been covered up by fraud or false accounting by the sub-postmaster or mistress.
During June 2010 Mrs Cleife’s branch was audited and she stated that there had been discrepancies in the branch accounts. The problems with her accounts had got worse after the Horizon system was installed, although she was unaware that an explanation of the discrepancies could be due to errors in the Horizon system. Mrs Cleife spent hours on the phone to the Post Office’s helpline, but they never indicated that problems could be due to glitches in the Horizon system.
On the 26th October 2021, she pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud. She was committed to the Winchester Crown Court, where she received a sentence of 100 hours of community service.
Mrs Cleife and her husband reported that the ordeal of being falsely accused was “the most traumatic thing we’ve ever gone through.” She had noticed that the money wasn’t adding up but could not figure out why, “there was a lot of stress and worry, I knew I wasn’t taking it but I didn’t know where it was going.” [Source: Hampshire Chronicle]. Mrs Cleife said that the conviction caused her significant financial difficulties, “I had a mortgage to pay and a criminal record. I applied for hundreds of jobs and couldn’t get anywhere.” [Source: Andover Advertiser].
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- Offence: Theft / fraud
- Jurisdiction: England & Wales
- County: Hampshire
- Ethnicity: White
- Gender: F
- Offence convicted of: Fraud
- Year of initial conviction: 2010
- Year conviction was overturned: 2021
- CCRC Referral: Y
- Post Office Case: Y