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Ben Newton’s successful submission of no case to answer leads to acquittal of accountant accused of fraud and forgery

Ben Newton, together with instructing solicitor Miranda Ching of Peters & Peters, has made a successful submission of no case to answer at Southwark Crown Court which led to the acquittal of their client, an accountant accused of fraud by abuse of position and forgery.

The charges arose from the accountant’s dealings with an elderly tax client who in her late 80s developed the first signs of dementia. The allegations related to a will procured for the elderly client in circumstances where the accountant was allegedly aware of the existence of a hospital assessment stating that the elderly client did not have capacity to manage her financial affairs. The case raised complex questions concerning the application of test for testamentary capacity set out in Banks v Goodfellows and the different tests for capacity within the context of the Mental Health Act 2005.

At trial, it was shown that the Crown’s single reliance on the hospital assessment was fundamentally flawed. The Crown’s own witnesses, including a social worker, bank manager and friend, gave evidence that the elderly client had capacity to give instructions for her will.  The Court held that there was insufficient evidence to show that the accountant was dishonestly abusing his position, or that he had made a forged instrument in the form of the will.