Richard Hawkes 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. However, the accounts of a branch post office did not in fact reflect missing cash or stock but was a result of a bug within the Horizon system which caused errors or defects.
An unexplained shortfall of more than £11,000 was found in Mr Hawkes’s accounts. He had called for an audit himself because he was concerned about a shortfall that he could not explain and believed something was wrong with the accounting system. Despite this, he was prosecuted. He borrowed money from his brother to pay back the shortfall before he appeared in court. He pleaded guilty to five counts of false accounting and sentenced to 120 hours of community service.
Ms Hawkes’s conviction was quashed based on evidence indicating that the Horizon computer system was faulty, and responsible for incorrectly flagging shortfalls in accounts.< Back to Case Search < Back to Overview Graph
- Offence: False accounting
- Jurisdiction: England & Wales
- County: Norfolk
- Gender: M
- Offence convicted of: False accounting
- Year of initial conviction: 2005
- Year conviction was overturned: 2022
- Post Office Case: Y
- Link to full case: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2022/1197.html
- Crown argued case at CofA: N
- Retrial: N