Janine Powell 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.
Ms Powell’s branch was audited in February of 2007 and a shortfall was identified. A £70,000 cash discrepancy was identified, and Mrs Powell stated that she could not identify the shortage.
An analysis of Horizon data showed that there were further cash discrepancies and cash figures on branch trading statements were manipulated in order to balance the books. She transferred money in and out of stock unit to cover the loss, and after enquiries she denied this was to cover up theft.
On the 25th September 2008, after pleading not guilty Ms Powell was convicted of theft in the Crown Court at Exeter and she was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
Ms Powell’s conviction was quashed when errors in the Horizon system were identified as the cause of the shortfall.
After receiving the prison sentence she felt “broken” as she would have to leave her children aged 10 and 18. She stated that “It had a big impact. You have to declare obviously that you have a criminal record”. She reported that she self-harmed as a result and her relationship with her children became strained (Source: Daily Mail).
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- Offence: Theft / fraud
- Jurisdiction: England & Wales
- County: Devon
- Gender: F
- Offence convicted of: Theft
- Year of initial conviction: 2008
- Year conviction was overturned: 2021
- CCRC Referral: Y
- Post Office Case: Y
- Crown argued case at CofA: N
- Retrial: N