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Richard Witcombe achieves dramatic reduction of POCA benefit figure from £1.2 million to £8,700: R v HK

January 21, 2015

In POCA proceedings Richard Witcombe challenged the prosecution assertion that a convicted fraudster whose "lifestyle"  benefit figure was said to be in excess of £1.2 million had had a criminal lifestyle within the meaning of section 75(2)(c) POCA 2002.

Richard's client was thought to have been involved in a so-called "pyramid scheme" and, following his conviction for a fraud that was alleged to have taken place over some nine months, POCA proceedings were instigated. Richard took the view that whilst the form of the Indictment upon which his client had been convicted appeared to fall foul of section 75(2)(c), its substance satisfied neither the proper construction of section 75 nor the legislative intent underpinning the Act's "lifestyle" provisions.  In the event, and thanks to Richard's legal analysis, the prosecution conceded the argument at a final hearing which had been scheduled to take place over a number of days.  A benefit figure of £8,700 - which represented the unreturned proportion of the specific benefit from the fraud - was agreed. Needless to say, Richard's client was spared what would have been a financial "life sentence" had the court assessed his benefit to be in excess of £1.2 million.