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‘I can’t believe this day has come’: Twelve more former sub-postmasters have convictions overturned

Written by on 19/07/2021

A former sub-postmaster says he feels “incredible” after his conviction for false accounting was overturned at the Court of Appeal.

Sami Sabet received a 12-month suspended prison sentence in 2009 after being accused of stealing £50,000 from the Post Office while running two branches in Shoreham-by-Sea and Brighton.

He had to use credit cards and loans to pay the money back, when it was in fact the Post Office’s Horizon IT system that created the false shortfall.

“I cannot believe that this day has come,” he told Sky News.

Sami Sabet
Image: Sami Sabet ran two Post Office branches in Brighton and Shoreham-by-Sea

“You couldn’t imagine the anguish I have suffered. There’s not a single minute of a single day that I didn’t go over this.”

Mr Sabet ended up with £100,000 of debt trying to pay the money back despite having repeatedly tried to tell the Post Office that he was not to blame and that it was the fault of Horizon.

He was one of 12 sub-postmasters to have their names cleared by three judges at the court in London on Monday.

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Hasmukh Shingadia was another of those convicted of false accounting.

When he realised he was to be exonerated, he and his wife both burst into tears.

“It’s absolutely wonderful not only for me but for my wife and two daughters who went through the same hell as I did,” said the former sub-postmaster, who ran a branch in Upper Bucklebury, Berkshire.

“It’s Freedom Day for a lot of us really. I want to go back to my family and relax.”

Hasmukh Shingadia
Image: Hasmukh Shingadia ran a Post Office branch in Berkshire

But for Tim Brentnall, who was convicted of false accounting after a £22,500 shortfall was discovered at his branch in Roch, Pembrokeshire, the result marks “a mix of elation and vindication”, but also anger at the Post Office.

Now comes the fight for compensation, but he says clearing his name was the first priority.

“No amount of money would put good what the last 11 years have put us through with the community I used to serve thinking I had wronged the Post Office,” he said.

Tim Brentnall
Image: Tim Brentnall worked as a sub-postmaster in Pembrokeshire

At an earlier hearing in April, 39 former sub-postmasters had their convictions quashed at the same court, having had their lives “irreparably ruined” for crimes including theft, fraud and false accounting.

Some had been fighting for 20 years to clear their names and many had lost not only their jobs but their homes and marriages due to the Fujitsu-developed system having “faults and bugs from the earliest days of its operation” in 2000.

The others to have convictions quashed on Monday were Robert Ambrose, John Armstrong, Jerry Hosi, Gurdeep Singh Dhale, John Dickson, Abiodun Omotoso, Malcolm Watkins, Carina Price and Rizwan Manjra.

A further 19 cases will be considered in November, but there are already more convictions being investigated.

 Sky News

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