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Bideford Air Training Corps man cleared of fraud

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 03, 2014

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The commanding officer of the Bideford Air Training Corps has been cleared of embezzling more than £4,000 from its funds after police carried out further checks on the accounts.

Allan Benson, 56, was also a former part time treasurer of the organisation in charge of collecting subscriptions but has always denied misusing any of the money.

The case against him at Exeter Crown Court was dropped after the prosecution said it was offering no evidence as a result of further inquiries.

The inquiry was branded ‘a flawed and inept investigation’ by his defence barrister as the case was discontinued.

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Mr Benson runs his own local business and has suffered a loss of trade as a result of the allegation which he faced, the court was told.

Benson, of Malvern Way, Bideford, denied stealing about £4,500 from the Air Training Corps while in a position of trust as treasurer between 2006 and 2011.

He was due for trial later this month but was not required to attend Exeter Crown Court where Judge Erik Salomonsen recorded a formal not guilty verdict an ordered his travel expenses for earlier hearings to be paid out of central funds.

Nigel Wraith, for the prosecution, said: “This case was due for trial and he was accused of fraud in relation to £4,000 or so of money when he was the Commanding Officer of the Bideford Air Training Corps (ATC).

“It seems from time to time he assumed responsibility for some of the finances and the case against him related to one account in particular.

“The proposition was he must have received some subscriptions from the cadets. There was further analysis of several accounts which were obtained by the police.

“As a result of that it is considered there was not sufficient evidence to take the matter to court and we propose to offer no evidence.”

Richard Crabb, for the defence, said: “He has always denied this and we say it was a flawed and inept investigation.

“The sad thing is he runs a local business and because of the publicity his business has struggled.”

Judge Erik Salomonsen said: “Having been charged with fraud, on further investigation into the financial background the Crown are not in a position to establish dishonesty and therefore offer no evidence. A not guilty verdict is the appropriate disposal.”

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  • Wazzamatter  |  April 03 2014, 6:16PM

    Due to the fact UK law does not actually allow anyone to be found 'Innocent', the result should have been 'No case to answer , therefore case dismissed', which is closer to meaning innocent rather than simply not guilty.

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  • davephipps65  |  April 03 2014, 8:50AM

    What an absolute disgrace that this man is labelled guilty by some members of the public and his business has suffered as a result of the Police and Prosecution service not carrying out a thorough investigation before starting Court proceedings. Even now they have selectively chosen words that does not say this man is innocent or that they have made a mistake by charging this man, what has happened to being innocent until proven guilty.

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  • ndjtom  |  April 03 2014, 8:29AM

    Yep, waste of taxpayers' money, and also unacceptable suffering for the innocent victim of the allegations. As usual, no actual apology from the police/prosecution, just a simple "we're not offering any evidence". I've never ever ever heard the prosecution/police apologise after a miscarriage of justice - whether it's someone taken to court only for the case to collapse, or an innocent person released from prison after years.

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  • ArtfulDodger  |  April 03 2014, 7:29AM

    What a complete waste of Tax Payers money......

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