Lisa Brennan

Year conviction was overturned:
2021

Lisa Brennan 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.

Lisa Brennan (who had become a Post Office counter clerk when she was 16 years old) was convicted on 27 counts of theft representing a shortfall of £3,482.40. She was acquitted on five further counts. She was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years. She appealed against conviction on the basis of inconsistent verdicts, but this appeal was dismissed. As a result of the proceedings against her, she was forced to file for bankruptcy.

The basis of each of the prosecutions of the “Post Office 39” 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. 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 were 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: Other
  • Jurisdiction: England & Wales
  • County: Merseyside 
  • Gender: F
  • Offence convicted of: Theft
  • Year of initial conviction: 2003
  • Year conviction was overturned: 2021
  • CCRC Referral: Y
  • Tried with others: N
  • Link to full case: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Hamilton-Others-v-Post-Office-judgment-230421.pdf
  • Crown argued case at CofA: Argued one ground but not the other
  • Retrial: N
  • Previous appeals: Unsuccessful appeal against conviction in 2004: R v Brennan [2004] EWCA Crim 1329