Siobhan Sayer

Year conviction was overturned:

Siobhan Sayer 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.

In an investigative interview, following an alleged shortfall of £18.997 being identified, Ms Sayer stated that her branch had been incurring losses since 2004. She was taken ill at her first investigative interview. In the second interview she complained about inadequate training and the lack of supervision. She had suffered from ill health and found it hard to cope. She had contacted the Horizon helpline but received no meaningful assistance. She denied dishonest intent.

She pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and was sentenced to 40 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months with an unpaid work requirement of 200 hours. A confiscation order was made against her in the sum of £4,800.

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 her conviction 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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