Conspiracy to Defraud: The Threshold Standardisation

Publication Date01 October 2012
Date01 October 2012
AuthorAlan Reed
DOI10.1350/jcla.2012.76.5.792
SubjectCourt of Appeal
Standing Document..Contents .. Page1
Court of Appeal
Conspiracy to Defraud: The Threshold Standardisation
R v Clark and Clark [2012] EWCA Crim 1220
Keywords
Conspiracy to defraud; Common purpose; Dishonesty;
Sufficiency of evidence; Economic prejudice
An interesting issue arose in this case regarding the offence of conspiracy
to defraud, and the threshold standardisation after presentation of the
prosecution evidence that a case had not been established to be left to
the jury, properly applying the test in the well-known case of Galbraith
(R v Galbraith (1981) 73 Cr App R 124). The appellants were convicted
before Southwark Crown Court of two counts of conspiracy to defraud
and of attempting to convert criminal property. The background to the
allegations centred on a series of fraudulent mortgage applications, as a
result of which mortgage companies were induced to grant loans from
late 2000 until 2006. The principal offenders were a property investor
(D1) who ran a letting agency and other associated businesses and
another individual with whom D1 had a business connection. They
involved a large number of other people in their activities; in all some
19 people were arrested in connection with their fraudulent conduct.
Their activities involved using various dishonest means to persuade the
lenders, typically mortgage companies, to make loans which they would
not have made had the true facts been known. Different individuals
were involved in different fraud conspiracies. There were five separate
trials to deal with the full array of offences, and these appeals arose out
of the third trial. The essence of the conspiracy changes focused upon
inflated price fraud and/or bogus purchaser fraud in the first scenario,
and in the latter count the conspiracy was simply focused on the
appellants alleged misrepresentations to the mortgage company on
whether this too was an inflated purchase price fraud. This represented
a situation where the amount actually paid for the property is less than
the price recorded in the sale documents, which recorded price is likely
to have influenced the decision of the lenders as to what sum they may
be prepared to lend. It was alleged on the evidence that the defendant
supported by her husband had knowingly lied about her income, mar-
ital status and employment when applying for a mortgage. The defence
refuted this, and argued in response that key signatures were
forgeries.
HELD, DISMISSING THE APPEALS, a case had been established at the
halfway stage of the trial for jury deliberations. It is not necessary that
defendants in a conspiracy charge should know all the details of the
scheme to which they attach themselves. It is enough that there is a
common criminal purpose, in this case to deceive the lender. The
essential question was whether the defendants were innocent parties
duped by the principal offender or whether they knew more than they
were claiming and were directly involved in the two conspiracies. The
The Journal of Criminal Law (2012) 76 JCL 373–381
373
doi:10.1350/jcla.2012.76.5.792

The Journal of Criminal Law
court determined that the trial judge was entitled to conclude that this
was a question for the jury...

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