Mohammed Rasul 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.
Mr Rasul pleaded guilty to 21 counts of theft. The Court of Appeal noted that the precise amount to which he pleaded guilty was not clear but that it was probably either £11,907.52 or £10,237.19. He received a community sentence order with 100 hours of unpaid work and a three-month curfew requirement. He was ordered to pay £500 towards prosecution costs. The Court of Appeal judgment also suggested that he paid to the Post Office the amount charged in the indictment. Mr Rasul missed saying goodbye to his dying father as a result of the curfew imposed by his conviction.
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: Lancashire
- Ethnicity: Asian
- Gender: M
- Offence convicted of: Theft
- Year of initial conviction: 2007
- 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