When A Gift Leads To A Theft Allegation
Have you ever done anything that just doesn’t feel right to you?
That was the problem facing our client James.
James worked for a bank. He had left University and settled into a job and was doing well at it. So well that he was promoted and transferred to a different branch.
A branch 50 miles from home – not that far you may think, but far enough to mean that he could no longer really commute and he moved out.
You may think there’s nothing new there – I mean he’d lived away at University so why was this different? But it was, and it is – he wasn’t surrounded by friends and people also away from home ready to experience all that Uni had to offer. He was alone in a new place without friends or family.
One of the customers of the bank used to come in every week, often just for a chat. As her relationship manager James got to know Mrs X fairly well, and yes, perhaps at this time he began to lose the professional distance he should have maintained. She shared stories about her life so he told her bits about his and they became friends. At the time he was happy to have someone to confide in; she reminded him of his grandmother.
Mrs X lived alone, having outlived both her husbands, she had no children and no family – she too was alone. Most of her friends were gone – either moved to follow children/grandchildren, into care facilities or sadly, just to old age. Mrs X seemed, to James at least, to value their friendship as much as he did.
And so developed their routine – she would pop in to the bank once or twice a week, he would ring her to check up on how she was doing some evenings and pop to see her on others, sharing a meal together – the way he wished he still could with his grandmother.
And in that grandmotherly role, over a period, Mrs X gifted James a significant sum of money – £35,000 in total. James had initially refused, several times in fact, but she insisted – she had no one to give it to and she didn’t want it going to the government. So when James needed a new car she insisted on giving him £10,000, when he was looking to buy a flat she gave money towards the deposit. Over the course of a few years the sums mounted up.
But James felt uneasy about it. In fact, he kept records of it all and had it recorded as ‘loans’ – to be repaid when he was able to.
Then James got another promotion – after almost 5 years he had proven himself so well he was moved roles again – and away from Mrs X. He was no longer in branch when she popped in to see him, he was no longer about to pop in to see her after work, he wasn’t free for their chess games and coffee.
And she was hurt.
And then she became angry.
And then she reported James to the police for theft.
James lost his job – after all she was a client of the bank – he had access to her accounts – the bank felt that he had crossed a professional line even irrespective of the criminal allegations against him.
James was terrified. In his words he’d been “incredibly stupid” but he had never intended to do anything criminal – he’d always intended it to be a loan and he’d even got Mrs X to sign to agree that it was a loan.
We worked with James to put his side of the story to the police. We made sure that his version of events was heard as well. The solicitor he spoke to before us advised him to give a no-comment interview but as we explained – he had an answer to the allegations – so it was important that he made sure the police knew it.
We supported James both before, during and after his police interview as he awaited the decision whether to charge him.
If you are interviewed by the police you are entitled to free legal advice at the station – but this does not extend to support before and after the interview. It does not extend to making formal representations to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration when determining whether it is appropriate to charge you.
If you are invited for interview and need police station representation then give Forrest Williams a call on 01623 397200 – the appointment of an expert legal team at this early stage of your case can prevent the matter going further but just as importantly it gives you the reassurance that your side of the story matters.