Damian Owen was one of the “Post Office 39,” 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.
Following an audit on 9 August 2010, it was alleged that Mr Owen stole money and covered up theft, on the basis of data from the Horizon system which indicated a shortfall in the accounts. In interview, Mr Owen said the branch had transferred to Horizon online on 23 July 2010, when a thorough cash check was carried out and the accounts balanced. He could not explain the shortage.
Mr Owen was convicted of theft of £24,867.99 by a jury, who took less than an hour to convict him. He was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. He told North Wales Live that he “lost everything” as a result of the scandal. He missed his child’s first Christmas and birthday while in prison. He said “I lost all of it, the job was lost, our home was lost, any kind of decent job was out of the window after it.”
On appeal, the Court of Appeal accepted findings that bugs, errors, and defects in Horizon could, and did, cause discrepancies and shortfalls in branch accounts. The court concluded that if the Horizon data was not reliable then there was no basis for the prosecution, and the convictions was quashed. The court noted that failures of investigation and disclosure in the cases prevented the appellants from challenging, or challenging effectively, the reliability of the Horizon data.
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- Offence: Theft / fraud
- Jurisdiction: England & Wales
- County: Clwyd
- Ethnicity: White
- Gender: M
- Years in prison: .25
- Offence convicted of: Theft
- Year of initial conviction: 2011
- Year conviction was overturned: 2021
- CCRC Referral: Y
- Post Office Case: Y
- Tried with others: N
- Link to full case: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Hamilton-Others-v-Post-Office-judgment-230421.pdf
- Crown argued case at CofA: Argued one ground but not the other
- Retrial: N