Before: His Honour Judge Rudd
B E T W E E N
GIBSON and others
DATED: 26 April 1994
HIS HONOUR JUDGE RUDD
HIS HONOUR JUDGE RUDD
This is an action brought by the Bank of England against eight defendants. They are four ex-employees of the bank and their respective spouses. The allegation is that they stole moneys from the Bank of England in the sum of some £700,000, though as to the actual sum the plaintiffs do not have any specific knowledge. The 4th defendant - that is Mr Winwright - has settled the action with the bank and made repayment and various arrangements with the bank which I shall deal with in a moment. He has also been charged, pleaded guilty to and convicted of theft, on several indictments, of moneys from the bank totalling a sum of £170,000. For that he was given a sentence of 18 months imprisonment and has now served that sentence.
He agreed to give evidence against the other defendants in this matter; and as a result of that he gained various advantages including the fact that the bank wrote a letter to the trial judge and there is reason to think that that letter indicating his co-operation would have resulted in a lesser sentence than might otherwise have been the case.
The 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th defendants worked for the Bank of England in their Returned Notes Section of its premises at Loughton in Essex. At this plant used bank notes were processed by the bank partly by hand and partly by machine. Forgeries and foreign notes were extracted from the notes returned to the bank. Some notes were fit for re-issue; some notes were to be destroyed I think at one time by fire but latterly by a process called maceration. The building itself was on three floors; there was a vault in the basement; the top floor was where the processing machinery was; there was a hoist between those floors; there was an intermediate floor, of course.
The money in question, which was in notes of various denominations, was kept in cages, and each cage had two locks on it. The locks are on the face of them identical brass locks, save that one type of lock had a black tape around it, the other had a white tape around it. Those tapes indicated that different keys were needed for each lock and different people held those keys. Each cage had an inventory on its outside face, that inventory setting out the contents of the cage, and those contents could be checked visually from the outside. There was, as one might expect, security at the bank. There were random searches. There were in certain parts television cameras. There was direct observation of the upper floor from behind one-way glass screens. There were auditors who from time to time examined the position and the stock of notes generally.
There was a varying shift pattern. That was to avoid particular groups of people always working together, though the evidence was that that particular system could regularly be overridden by agreement between the staff. Mr Marshall was in charge of security, he being a former chief superintendent in the CID.
On 16 January 1992 a Mr Mitchell of the Reliance Mutual Insurance Society went to see Mr Gibson, the husband of one of the defendants. Mr Mitchell understood from a Mr Lee Wright that Mr Gibson wanted to invest some money, a large sum of money; and in due course he went to see Mr Gibson and Mrs Gibson as well, and they filled in, or Mr Mitchell filled in, a financial analysis. That analysis was signed by Mr and Mrs Gibson. The object of that exercise was that Mr Gibson wanted to purchase a bond for the sum of £100,000 and on that financial analysis it showed that they had savings of some £35,000. There was an indication on the form that very large amounts of cash are available at any time.
The bond was duly purchased, and Mr Gibson sought to hand the money over in cash. That was not acceptable to Mr Mitchell, and the cash was taken by Mr Gibson in a plastic bag in bundles of notes to the Reliance Mutual's premises the following day. In the ordinary course of events, that being a substantial sum of cash, that was reported when banked by the Reliance Mutual to the Drugs Intelligence Unit. The Drugs intelligence Unit notified either the CID or the City of London Fraud Squad -I am not sure which - and that led in due course to all the defendants being arrested and thereafter to their dismissal - the dismissal of those who were employees of the Bank of England. That is an outline of the matter.
The plaintiff's case is this, that when Mr Winwright was arrested he readily confessed to theft of some £170,000. That was in three 'hits', if I can describe it in that way: firstly a sum of £100,000 (that was a theft with Mr Longman - £100,000 each, he says); secondly, a similar theft with Mr Longman, £50,000 each, he says; and thirdly, £20,000 which was a little bit of private enterprise on his own. He implicated others in thefts, firstly a Mr Longman as being jointly involved with him in the two thefts that I have indicated of £150,000 in total for each of them; secondly a Mr Nairn; thirdly, Mrs Gibson; and fourthly a lady who I shall describe as Mrs Hammond but she is also known as Mrs Glasscock.
As a result of this information from Mr Winwright, an inquiry was held by the bank. Mr Longman, Mr Nairn and Mrs Gibson, amongst others, were interviewed by the bank. During the course of that inquiry they denied absolutely any involvement in theft of money from the bank. Mrs Hammond (Mrs Glasscock), a group leader, admitted a theft on one occasion of a sum of £500; and a Mrs New admitted that she had received payment of some £2,800 which she said was paid to her by Mr Nairn, that being a payment for changing locks on the cages of money. Mrs New implicated Nairn, Longman and Gibson in the activity of changing locks on the cages.
Winwright explained, in due course, how the thefts were taking place, that is, what he says was the modus operandi of the others for removing the money. The evidence of New was consistent with this. What they say is that each cage, as I have indicated, had the two locks on it, one with white tape, one with black tape, different keys were required for white-taped locks and black-taped locks, and those keys were held separately by different supervisors. In other words, as a basic matter of security, if anyone wanted to open a cage two persons needed to be present with separate keys to deal with the separate locks. It is alleged that on the late shift when Gibson was the group leader, the locks were swapped through the intermediary of New. The locks were swapped in this way: a lock that would require a black key, if I can call it thus, would have the tape changed on it, so that although it would appear to be such a lock it would in fact be a lock that required the opposite coloured key. The effect of that is that one person was able to open both locks though they appeared to be of different colours. And that one person, it is alleged, was Gibson. So although she would have a cage which ostensibly had locks of different colours on it, with her one key she could open both of them because they were in reality identical locks. Having opened the cages, the allegation is, of course, that she and Nairn removed money from the cages.
Thereafter, exactly how the money was got out is not clear from the allegations made by the plaintiff, save that the allegation is that by various subterfuge, by hiding money about the person particularly of Gibson and by avoiding any occasions when there were searches at the end of what was described as the Burma Road, which was the way out of the building, the defendants were able to get money out of the building. In summary, therefore, the direct evidence of the plaintiff is that of Winwright who gives direct evidence of theft by Gibson, Nairn and Longman and also explains how he says the thefts were able to take place. Mrs New gives direct evidence of facilitating the thefts by changing the locks. She says that those locks were handed to her - she refers to three specific occasions - by Nairn, by Gibson and by Longman.
There is what has been described as indirect evidence, that is, evidence from which inferences may be drawn. The first of that type of evidence is the fact that Mr Gibson had £100,000 in cash, and the indication was from the form he signed that there were lots more where that came from or lots of cash available. The same goes for Mr Nairn who had a £30,000 bond also paid for in cash. The plaintiff also relies on a series of financial analyses of the respective defendant's - taken as pairs - position. Those analyses are taken from various documents discovered during the case or in the course of Mareva injunction proceedings at the start of the case; and the plaintiff says that they go both to liability and to quantum.
So far as those analyses are concerned, by the very nature of the case the plaintiff cannot say how much was stolen. At the point of theft, which the plaintiff alleges was in the vault, where moneys were moving at that point to maceration, the cages had passed through the last of the accounting processes of the bank. Thereafter they were simply to be fed into machinery and apparently eventually became small blocks of material that were used as landfill. So the plaintiff attempts to deal with that part of its difficulty by putting together the financial analyses that I have indicated from the various documents. That shows what the plaintiff says is the position of the defendants, taken as pairs, from the period 1 April 1988 to March of 1992. The plaintiff relies on this material firstly to corroborate, not in the technical sense but to give added support to, the allegation that the defendants did steal money from them, that is, the analyses show that the defendants have spent far more money than they had obvious income - obvious, that is, at that stage to the plaintiff; and secondly, the analyses go to quantum, that is, as to the question of how much was stolen.
The evidential support for the analyses appears, as I have indicated, from the various discovered documents - in the main they are undisputed documents; from disputed estimates as to the cost of living; and from disputed income figures. I don't propose at this stage to set out in detail those analyses. They are set out in the bundles.
A number of points of law and questions on the pleadings have arisen during the course of the matter. The first is this: To what standard should a case of this sort, involving an allegation of theft, be proved, this being, of course, a civil case? The defendants say that the standard of proof appropriate in a case of this nature is the criminal standard of proof. They rely on the case of Holford v. Brooks  QB. That was a very unusual case in which damages were sought for an assault, that assault being murder, or having resulted in the death of the person assaulted.
In that case it was held by Rougier J that the proper test was to adopt the equivalent of the criminal standard. The plaintiff disputes that and says that the appropriate test is that in Hornal v. Neuberger in the Court of Appeal, reported in  1 QB 247. That case says that where allegations of fraud are involved the civil standard is appropriate, and consequently the balance of probabilities, but that the degree of probability must be commensurate with the occasion and proportionate to the subject-matter, that is, there is a sliding scale as to probability according to the gravity of the subject-matter. I accept the submission of the plaintiff on that point; and I shall adopt the test set out in Hornal v. Neuberger, that is the civil standard of proof; and that also is the standard of proof used in the Family Division in cases where serious allegations of child sex abuse are made. Clearly, the more serious the subject-matter, the greater is the degree of probability that is looked for; and I shall apply that higher standard to the issue of liability in this case, that is, because of the gravity and seriousness of the allegation, a higher standard of probability should be looked for.
A second point that arose is that of corroboration. The defendant's case is that Winwright, New and Hammond are accomplices and that as a matter of law, certainly criminal law, accomplices cannot corroborate each other. They refer to Holford v. Brooks again and to a case of Gallagher v. Gallagher  P, where 40 years ago adultery was considered such a grave charge that issues of corroboration arose in respect of it.
So far as that submission is concerned - that is that these are accomplices and that they cannot corroborate each other - I reject that submission. There are no rules of corroboration applicable in the civil law. The fact that Winwright, New and Hammond were all involved in thefts is a matter to take into account in considering their evidence. Indeed, I shall take it into account. It is a factor that one takes into account in considering and assessing whether or not they are telling the truth. It is a factor that goes to the question where the balance of probability lies. I bear in mind, and shall throughout, that they are all thieves, they are all involved in theft from the Bank of England.
A point arose as well on the pleadings, particularly the Further and Better Particulars. The defendants essentially say "We have got to know what charge - if that is appropriate in this Court - they are to meet at trial. Not surprisingly, they ask for details of the thefts alleged. They want to know how much, when, what circumstances and all the usual questions that one would expect to be asked. The plaintiff's answers to those questions were somewhat vague, in that they were based on the evidence available to the plaintiff and as to exactly what took place, when it took place and how much was stolen the plaintiffs were unable to give a very straightforward answer.
This, of course, is a relatively unusual case. At the time that this matter came to light the plaintiff did not appear to be aware that anything was being stolen at all from it. Indeed, the plaintiff effectively says that what took place, when it took place and how much was stolen, if anything, are matters exclusively within the knowledge of the defendants; and by the very nature of the case and the allegation, the plaintiff has no real way of knowing what was going on.
The defendants say that unless I can make specific findings that such-and-such was stolen by so-and-so on a particular date on such a sum, I am not in a position to make any findings against the defendants at all. So far as that is concerned, I reject that submission. On the question of liability, the plaintiff's case is that the defendants stole money from the bank, that is those defendants who were employees. That is the central issue, as I see it, that I have to decide; and subsequently the matter, should that be against the defendants, is one purely of quantum.
For the purposes of liability I have to be satisfied only, in my view, that the defendant employees stole money from the bank. I don't need to be satisfied as to an exact time or date for a theft or how much was stolen. I certainly take into account that the defendants face some difficulty with a case of this nature in resisting what is essentially a general allegation, without there being specific detail. Certainly that is less so far as Longman is concerned, more so far as Nairn and Gibson are concerned; and I bear that in mind in looking at the matter overall. I reject therefore the approach of Mr Du Cann and Mr Wadsworth for various defendants whom they represent that I must find specific thefts in specific sums before I can be satisfied on liability.
Another issue arises as to the liability of the spouses. The Gibsons accept that if I find that Mrs Gibson stole money, then Mr Gibson must have had knowledge of it; and consequently, if there is a finding against Mrs Gibson of theft or stealing the money, Mr Gibson is liable with her. As to Mrs Longman and Mrs Nairn, the position is slightly different. The case pleaded against them is that money was received by them, that is the spouses of the employees, knowing it to be stolen; that they assisted in concealing or spending the money; that property in the money remained with the plaintiff; that the defendant received the money upon trust for the plaintiff; that the defendant received the money to the plaintiff's use. The spouses, it is pleaded against them, have knowingly interfered with the employment contracts of the employees or assisted them to breach their said contract. If the spouses knowingly received stolen money, they are liable for what they received; and about that there is no issue.
The plaintiff's case is that they had either actual knowledge or they shut their eyes to the obvious or there was a wilful and reckless failure on their part to make such inquiry as an honest and reasonable man (in this case woman) would in fact make. If that is so, if those mental states exist in the spouses, then the spouses are liable with the employee. That is on the basis that they knowingly assisted in a fraudulent breach of trust, because this matter is put against them effectively in trust. If the receipt of the moneys by the spouses was innocent - that is, that it was not dishonest - for the plaintiff to recover its money on the basis of Lipkin v. Karpnale  2 AC 548 it must show firstly that the spouses were unjustly enriched; and secondly, that they remained so at the date of the writ, that is, their position had not between the dishonest receipt and the date of the writ changed.
I turn then to deal with the defendants' case, first generally, and then I shall deal with them specifically. Each of the defendants who were employed by the bank denies absolutely taking any money from the Bank of England. They each point to the tight security at the bank's plant. They say therefore, from that, that it is inherently unlikely that cash could be stolen. Each employee points to his or her good character. They are people of no previous convictions. Each points to the fact that the three main witnesses against them - that is Winwright, New and Hammond - are, firstly, dishonest by their own admissions; and secondly, they have got something to gain by giving evidence in this case against the defendants. They are dishonest because each of them has admitted either theft or being involved in theft from the bank. Winwright has, of course, been convicted and imprisoned in respect of that. New and Hammond have also admitted either receiving money for their part in the changing of locks (that is New) or stealing money on her own account (that is Hammond).
The defendants point to the advantages gained by those witnesses in giving evidence in this Court. Winwright did a deal with the bank. The bank, as a result of that deal with Winwright which is set out in the documents - there is no dispute about it - wrote a letter to the trial judge when he was in due course tried, saying effectively that he had co-operated with the bank and as a result of that he probably got a lesser sentence. The bank did not seek to recover from Mr Winwright more than £170,000, though it is quite obvious that he had more money than that. How much is unknown, though obviously from his own evidence there were other sums that he appears to have frittered away. The bank did not bankrupt him to obtain its money back but instead it took a charge over his house. The effect of that charge, of course, is that Mr Winwright was and is liable to that charge being exercised and therefore to losing his home if he did not give evidence.
Also, Mr Winwright gave evidence that he was coerced by the Police to name other people involved. He said that in the police station he was frightened; he wanted to get himself and his wife out. And he effectively says that he was leaned on fairly heavily to name names.
The defendants say of New much the same, that she has also done a deal with the bank. She was sacked but she kept her pension. She also feared that she might go to prison if she was prosecuted. But she was not prosecuted. She was allowed to repay the money by instalments. She, as she herself said, made a deal with the bank because she wanted to save her own skin, to avoid prosecution and to gain the advantages that I have indicated; she too, as with Winwright, agreed to give evidence against the defendants in this action. The same goes for Hammond: she was not prosecuted and got the same advantages as the others; she in turn also agreed to make statements and in due course to give evidence, as she has done, as they all have done, at this trial.
Having made those general observations, I turn to the defence of first the Gibsons. The financial analysis in summary boils down to this, that over the period in question, which was April of 1988 to March of 1992 - four full financial years - the plaintiffs say that the income of the Gibsons (and income in the broadest sense, not necessarily just income from earnings but money coming into their finances) was £36,000, that is, the moneys that Mrs Gibson earned as an employee of the bank. At the end of the trial there was an adjustment made to that figure agreed by the plaintiff to add a further £33,000 to it, thereby giving a total income over the period of £69,000. I have rounded up and rounded down all these figures, as they are largely for the purposes of illustration.
The defendants' case against that is not that their income over the period was £69,000 but that it was in fact £308,000, there being therefore a rather substantial difference between the parties. The next figure taken is expenditure. Working from the various documents in the manner that I have indicated and various affidavits filed in the Mareva proceedings, the plaintiffs calculate expenditure of the Gibsons from those documents in the sum of £297,000. The defendants' figures are different. They say £242,000.
There is also a further figure for assets not traced. Originally the plaintiff put that at £16,000 and the defendants at £3,000. There are various adjustments to the plaintiff's figure, agreed by the plaintiff, and there is now no issue between the parties on those assets. There is also a movement of assets taken from an opening position to a closing position over that period; and both sides agree that there is an increase of £31,000. That, according to the bank, shows an unexplained expenditure of some £261,000 over the period. According to the Gibsons, they are £31,000 to the good, that is, there is no expenditure over income but rather the other way round.
There is, of course, a fairly marked discrepancy as to the income of the defendants. £69,000 say the plaintiffs; £308,000 say the defendants. The £36,000 I have already indicated was Mrs Gibson's income from the bank. There were the other agreed moneys coming into the household, £33,000, making the £69,000. That £33,000 was some PAYE work done by Mr Gibson, some subcontract work of the husband where there were some cheques representing the said income of the husband and money from Mrs Gibson's mother's estate, her superannuation moneys.
The case put principally revolves around Mr Gibson as to where this income came from. Mr Gibson told me that he is a very hard working man, now being some 47 years old. The bank's case is that he has never done an honest day's work in his life. His answer to that is "Not at all. I have never passed a day of my life effectively when I have not worked." The honesty may be a matter of debate; nevertheless, work he has always done. He says that he always works for cash. He is a great believer in cash, and he went as far as to say he has a genetic disposition to it. "It's in my genes", he said.
He said that occasionally he worked for PAYE, and that he found distasteful; and that the only reason that he did it was, as he put it, that "the taxman was sniffing round." Interestingly, some of the papers indicated that Mr Gibson did have various tax references and those numbers that the whole of the population who works seem to possess for national insurance and the like, but obviously from what he told me, he only joined the system very rarely. He had never had a bank account. Again, he was not a believer in bank accounts. Indeed, other witnesses were not either. He was not a believer in a bank account because that led to a possibility of tracing money. Looking over his shoulder all the time, was the taxman "sniffing around". In fact it did emerge at the very end of the trial that he did have a joint account with his wife; that was an account closed some time ago; and the actual outcome of what was or was not in it never materialised.
He does not hold himself out as being an honest man. He is prepared to fiddle the Revenue. He was prepared to steal from customers when he worked for an organisation that dealt with the supply of oil to the public; and he was prepared to deal in goods of dubious provenance. He is prepared to commit petty frauds with lorry loads by driving the same load round and round and drawing money on it on each occasion. He added to his income by a bit of fly tipping when that improved his position.
He was also a very versatile man. He started life at 17 or 18 as a builder with his Uncle Bob who taught him the trade; and he stayed with Uncle Bob for some years. He has an HGV Class I licence and much of his life he has been an HGV driver. Indeed, during the period of the financial analysis prepared for the plaintiff he was a partner with a Mr Lamb in a haulage firm. That did not last very long. It was indeed registered for VAT. Mr Lamb seems to have gone off with the business, bought out Mr Gibson and fled when the business went bankrupt and the Revenue were looking for him, that is Mr Lamb.
He has been a depot manager, having worked as a driver at the depot and subsequently became the manager of it. AT that time he managed to fiddle a bit of oil by either short-changing those to whom he was selling it or in some other way that is not clear. He is a vehicle repairer, does a bit of fitting, a bit of welding as the need dictates. He is a plant operator and gave evidence of using Kubota - I think it was a Kubota or one of the small earth diggers - to dig footings for premises. He is fencer, having erected fencing. This was a nice little earner, especially as the fencing panels were of a dubious provenance. And he says, quite bluntly, he has also dealt a bit in the buying and selling of stolen goods.
This work brought him and his wife a good standard of living. It did nothing to help the national economy. And, as a result of that, of course, he says "I didn't pay any tax, I didn't pay any national insurance, and that is why I was able to acquire large sums of cash." He said to Mr Wadsworth "If you think about it, wouldn't you be able to as well if you didn't pay any tax?" and I felt that brought a rather pained expression to Mr Wadsworth's face. This good standard of living was represented, amongst other things, by a series of nice cars. He particularly liked four-wheeled drive Shoguns. He had one with a specially fitted safe but not, he tells me to keep cash in but to keep the radio in. So doubtless it had a very expensive radio fitted. That car cost some £25,000. I say that by way of illustration. The purchase and selling of the cars was a complex operation and usually involved part exchange.
The couple had holidays, from the Far East in one direction to Hawaii in the other direction. I think, if my geography is right, that one sets out in separate directions to get to those two points. In between, they visited the Nile, America, The Bahamas and generally enjoyed a good standard of holidaying. He had a horse, of which I know little except that it is now dead and it was a Cleveland Bay. He is hoping to retire at 55. Over the years he has saved all his earnings. Where he has had cheques they have been paid through his wife into her Bank of England account. They had a joint account with the Bank of England. And the balance was kept in cash.
By the start of the plaintiff's accounting period for the purpose of financial analysis, he says that he had some £14,500 saved and some money owed to him. By 16 January 1992, according to his own schedule, he had cash in hand of £127,000 and some £47,000 in a bank and a building society. That was I think in the wife's name. Thus it was that he came to invest in the £100,000 bond. He had the cash available in a safe under the stairs under the gas meter in his home, sufficiently well hidden that the Police certainly did not find it when they searched the house; and Mr Gibson did not feel that it was his duty to draw their attention to it. He also had a small float upstairs behind the bath panel of approximately £5,000 in ready money.
There was called on behalf of the Gibsons witnesses, firstly his brother Michael. Michael Gibson was the owner of a house and wanted an extension built on to that house. He contracted with his brother Peter to carry that out, that is with the defendant Peter Gibson. There is some conflict of evidence as to exactly how it was dealt with, but £19,000 was paid to Peter Gibson, so Michael Gibson says, for labour, for a six weeks period approximately between November 1991 and February 1992. Whether the actual building took six weeks, one does not know, but it was done over that period. And very often, of course, in winter building is difficult. The materials for that extension cost a further £11,000. There was some confusion at one stage as to whether the £19,000 was just the labour or whether that was labour and materials. Michael Gibsons says "No", that the £19,000 that he paid to his brother was for labour; that he gave Peter Gibson a further £11,000 with which he acquired materials.
Mr Michael Gibson was able to produce plans; and he raised the £19,000 by way of mortgage from the building society. The £11,000 he had in cash. There was, indeed, evidence that £19,000 was raised on mortgage; and as to the payments to his brother he simply identified entries in his bank account as payments to Peter Gibson.
There was then a Mr David Beckett, who also had a building extension done by Mr Peter Gibson, and he paid some £10,000 plus; exactly how much he is not sure. His building operation has been on-going for some years apparently; and he paid cash over a period of time as things went along. He kept no records. There was no agreed rate or measurement of works. He just apparently agreed on an ad hoc or on a per item basis how much for each job. He cannot find his building society book from which the sums were paid.
I heard from Mr Nash of KNB Transport. He told me that he had employed Peter Gibson for many years as a driver. Occasionally he had paid him by cheque but mostly cash. He had got no records of the actual work done by Peter Gibson. He was not able to give any details of the rates of pay. He produced a series of books and there were a series of items of cash in those books, and at some stage someone had written beside those the annotation 'PG', which he told me that was an identification of those cash payments as being to Peter Gibson. He was not quite sure when that annotation had been made.
He had written earlier in the proceedings an undated letter - it appears in the bundle E20 at 157 - in which he showed payments all in cash to Mr Gibson as follows: year ended March 1989 £29,717; 1990, £28,396; 1991, £10,562; 1992, £16,900. That is a grand total of something over £85,000 over that period, all paid in cash.
In addition to the income of Mr Gibson, between 1988 and 1992 Mrs Gibson's mother died. She received £17,000, as I have already indicated, superannuation - there is no dispute about that - and of that £17,000 she paid half to her sister. She also after her mother had died found some £13,700 in cash at mother's home. Mother was a warden in an old people's home. Earlier - that is, before her death - mother had given Mrs Gibson some £9,500 for in vitro fertilization treatment. That had eventually taken place but on the National Health. It was, unhappily, not successful. A further point made by the Gibsons is that their expenditure is not very high; as there are only the two of them and no children.
Their expenditure is a difficult figure to deal with on the analysis. There is a difference between the plaintiffs and the Gibson defendants of some £42,000 on everyday living expenses over the period. It is a very difficult figure to get at. The plaintiff's case is that there are large movements of money in and around their affairs; that the figures put forward by the bank are taken from analysis of the various documents produced on discovery, from the affidavits in the Mareva injunction and from explanations given by the defendants.
I turn now to deal with the Longmans. Firstly I deal with the financial analysis. The plaintiffs say that over the period, again the same period, there was an income of Mr Longman derived from the bank of some £43,000. The defendants' case is that in fact the income over that period was £98,000. There is an expenditure given by the bank and adjusted subsequently which shows a total expenditure over the period of £105,000. The defendants say "Not at all. It was £84,000." There are assets not traced: the plaintiffs say £39,000 and the defendants say £11,000. And there is movement of assets which both agree at £5,000. The bank says that there is an unexplained expenditure there, that is, an excess of expenditure over income of £106,000. The defendants say "Not at all. It is the reverse. They have a surplus of £2,000." But despite asking Mr Wadsworth about the preparation of his schedule, having given further thought to it, I am not satisfied that movement of assets was taken into consideration. I thought I understood at the time his explanation; and I think that the true figure is not one of £2,000 in credit but £2,000 in deficit. But, again, it matters not greatly, and it is no criticism of Mr Wadsworth who gave me an explanation that at the time, until I thought about it further, I thought was correct.
Mr Longman says that he worked shifts at the bank - indeed, they all worked shifts at the bank - that three weeks out of four he was on shifts and he had a lot of spare time; that from 1987 to 1989 he worked for Mr Snow as a roofer; and that in the period the subject of the plaintiff's analysis he was paid the sum of some £6,000 by Mr Snow. That was cash in hand, and no record. He then worked for Mr Sorentino, a long-time friend, as a scaffolder, from March 1990; and he was paid by Mr Sorentino something of the order of £150 to £200 a week - again, cash payments. Again, there were no records. In fact Mr Longman is currently working for Mr Sorentino on a self-employed basis on a self-employed subcontractor 714 certificate. It is perhaps of note that even since he went on to a 714 subcontractor's basis he still is not keeping any records of what he is paid at all.
Mr Longman was thinking of buying a Shogun and he was thinking of buying one from a Mr Gordon Snow. Mr Snow had in fact bought one himself from another dealer. And, as Mr Longman was interested, Mr Longman had the vehicle between August of 1991 and December of 1991 on appro, and he paid to Mr Snow, who apparently paid it across to his co-owner of the vehicle, the sum of £200 per month. The plaintiff's case is that that was a vehicle purchased by Mr Longman, but Mr Longman says that that is not the case at all. He says that it was, as I have indicated, just on approval, for which he was paying the £200 a month, and in the end he decided not to buy it; therefore, it was never his vehicle and never falls into his account.
He did purchase a Suzuki Vitara for his wife as a Christmas present; and to assist him in doing that, he says that he borrowed some £5,000 cash from Mr Paul Snow; there seemed to be no terms as to repayment or interest; and in fact the money remains unpaid. There is no record either - I think I have probably mentioned this earlier - as to his work for Mr Sorentino, there are no records at all. Nor is there any adequate explanation as to rates of pay and how they were calculated.
Mrs Longman gave evidence. She says that she has worked for much of her life consistent only with taking time off when the children were young. She has worked as a cleaner and done ironing. She has been a registered child minder. She has worked in a school kitchen. She has worked on her father's market stall. She also works manicuring nails and I think holds some sort of franchise for the application of artificial nails.
When she was arrested in bed early in the morning she had on her wrist a Rolex wrist watch, which one knows at this remove had cost something over £1,800. That the plaintiffs say was hers. She says "No, it is not. That belongs to Mrs. Sorentino, the wife of Mr. Sorentino, the scaffolder." She says also that she had gifts of money from her father, and that over the relevant period - in fact over a longer period but money that she had retained within the relevant period - he had given her some £18,000 in cash. He was a gambler on the horses and the dogs, and he said that he was a successful gambler and, I shall deal with his evidence in a moment, but essentially that is where the money came from. Most of this money, I think Mrs Longman told me, she paid into her husband's account at the Abbey National. That was apparently closed in 1991 and the papers for that account cannot be found.
I heard from Mr Sorentino. He confirmed that he had bought the Rolex watch for his wife. Indeed, the Police found the box for the Rolex watch complete with the guarantee made out in the name of Mrs Sorentino at the house of the Longmans, the watch being there and available for the use of Mrs Longman by the agreement of the Sorentinos. Mr Sorentino told me that he paid Mr Longman in cash, that he does quite a lot of cash work as a scaffolder, that this sort of money didn't go through the books and that he had kept no records of cash payments to Mr Longman. He was not able to specify an hourly rate for the work, and there was no real way of calculating other than the £150 to £200 a week for work being done when Mr Longman was on shifts and either before he had started his shift or after he had finished his shift according to which shift he was on.
Mr Gordon Snow gave evidence. He was a car dealer and a general trader. He told me he had bought the Shogun with another trader for some £13,000 and that he intended to sell it at a profit. There were no documents of this transaction and Mrs Snow, from whom he is now separated, has the Shogun, he having bought out his partner.
Mrs Sorentino gave evidence that the Rolex watch in question was hers, and that it was kept by Mrs Longman. Mrs Sorentino wore it when they went out together, as frequently apparently they did, and apart from that, Mrs Sorentino was quite content that Mrs Longman should wear the watch. In any event, if the watch was not worn it apparently did not keep very good time.
Mr Raymond Snow gave evidence. He was Mrs Longman's father. He had been made redundant from his job in 1982, and he had got some £8,000 in redundancy moneys and a little bit of cash over the top of that, some £3,000. Some time after that he had moved house and had made a profit out of that transaction. In fact the house that he currently lives in, by deed of gift which was disclosed, he made over to his daughter and his son, his daughter being Mrs Longman. He said that he had given his daughter he thought some £20,000 over the years; that money came from funds available to him from gambling, from the profits of his market stall, where he sold earthenware, from unemployment benefit and I think the residue of the moneys that I have indicated earlier.
So far as his gambling was concerned, it seemed to be quite a thing in his life, and Mr Wadsworth asked him a bit about that but he was not able to name specific races or specific horses or specific years when he had had some of the good wins that he had indicated. On the other hand, one is now looking at some time ago.
The expenditure difference between the plaintiff's schedule and that of the defendants is some £21,000 in terms of everyday living expenses. So far as that is concerned, I make much the same observations as I made in respect of the Gibsons. There is not an awful lot that one can do with those figures.
So far as the Nairns are concerned, dealing again first with the analysis of the position in summary, the plaintiffs say that Mr Nairn had an income from the bank over the period of some £52,000. The defendants say that the true income into their household over the same period was £122,000. The plaintiffs identify, in the manner that I have indicated, originally a figure of £146,000 which they have adjusted down to £145,000. The defendants say £123,000. As to assets not traced, originally the plaintiffs said £10,000, the defendants £2,000, but there is an adjustment there and there is no issue between the parties in respect of that figure, nor on the question of the movement of assets over the period. That leads, according to the plaintiff, to unexplained expenditure of £114,000, according to the defendants' schedule of £3,618, but if one adds into that the movement of assets figure, if that is correct, then it is £22,000.
The Nairns were married with two children. He bought himself a bond, also from Mr Lee Wright, for some £30,000. That was paid in cash and taken in the name of his wife. His father had died in an unfortunate accident in December of 1988 when he apparently was knocked off his pedal cycle; subsequently when Mr Nairn went to his father's property on I think the second occasion, he found there, to his surprise, some £30,000 in cash. He has got two brothers and a sister, but he did not tell them about the cash. He accepts that he borrowed the money from the estate, and he has no idea how his father came by it.
His mother I think was at that time divorced from his father. She also had cash in the house, but she only had £15,000 and because she was worried at the thought of keeping such a sum of money in and about her accommodation, her son knowing about it, they agreed that they would open a building society account for her in their joint names. Mother had saved money all her life, she having been a home help employed by the Essex County Council. That account having been opened, a further £10,000 cash was paid into it by Mr Nairn. That came from money that he had accumulated in respect of cash work that he did; and his wife's name was added further to that account. His cash work was with a Mr Moore(?). That simply came down to this, that they bought cars that for the purpose of the insurance company were write-offs, that is, incapable of economic repair; and they repaired them and did them up and in due course sold them, splitting the proceeds equally. Mr Nairn was also a doorman at a pub or a club. That I think was work introduced to him by Mr Moore. He also did a bit of plumbing and gardening.
Mrs Nairn gave evidence. She indicated that she had worked in a pub for a period between 1988 and 1991. She did about 50 weeks a year; she earned up to £15 a shift. That was cash in hand and no records. She also did some child minding and was a school dinner lady.
Mr New gave evidence. He is Mr Nairn's brother-and-law. He said that, as I have indicated, Mr Nairn helped him in the car repair business, and he paid him what he could afford. As to the insurance write-offs, they split the profits on that. He did not put any of the salvage work through his books, which were meticulously kept as, indeed, were Mr Nash's, and there was no record in the books of any payments at all to Mr Nairn.
Mrs Ena Nairn was called - she is the mother of the defendant Mr Nairn. She told me that she was a lady of good character and that she had saved regularly all her life and particularly as a home help she had saved up the £15,000; and she had kept money in cash in thousand bundles. She does not like banks. But I think when she had started work for Essex she had in fact to have her money paid into some sort of bank account; but she never paid the £15,000 in cash into that. Most of the £15,000 she had already saved up before she became a home help in the early 1980s. Dealing with expenditure, on the analysis there are substantial differences between the parties as to daily expenditure; and I make the same observations as I made in respect of the other two defendants.
I make the following findings in this matter:
1. That Winwright and Hammond (also known as Glasscock) stole moneys from the bank and that on their own admission.
2. That the bank were at that time unaware of these thefts.
3. That in spite of the security arrangements at this bank, or at this particular plant, it was possible to steal money within the building and to get it out of the building.
4. That New was involved in facilitating thefts from the building by others for which she was paid money; and she was paid money for doing that on her own admission. That is, of course, the changing of the locks.
In considering her evidence and whether I accept it or reject it, I take into account all the matters that I have previously indicated that the defendants say that I should take into account in respect of her evidence. That is, in summary, that she is not honest; that she was not prosecuted; she has been given advantages by the bank provided she gave evidence, not the least must be that she kept her pension. So she has derived substantial benefit from giving evidence on behalf of the bank. I bear that in mind and indeed all the other criticisms of that general nature made in respect of her. I am satisfied that her role in this matter was, as she says, the changing of locks, and this is what she herself admits she was paid for. She was not stealing directly. So it follows from that that others were involved; and she implicates Nairn, who she says paid her, and Gibson and Longman. I accept her evidence on that, given all the points that I have indicated in respect of it.
It follows that I find that Nairn, Gibson and Longman had some reason for having the locks changed, for which they were prepared to pay. Mrs New's evidence is that she only changed the locks on three occasions. I bear that in mind.
So far as Mr Winwright is concerned - and again I bear in mind all the same points in respect of his evidence: he has gained an enormous advantage out of giving evidence on behalf of the bank. I certainly take that into account when I view his evidence. He implicates Longman in two opportunistic thefts which he says netted Mr Longman £150,000. He implicates Gibson and Nairn in the systematic thefts involving the changing of the locks. His evidence ties in with that of Mrs New in respect of the locks and the modus operandi with which it is alleged these thefts took place. He explains that simple method used by which money could be extracted from the cages; and he implicates, as I have indicated, Gibson and Nairn in doing that; that is in removing the locks, removing the money, with Winwright.
He appeared to me, again bearing in mind all the matters of criticism and points that I should bear in mind about his evidence, to give his evidence in a fairly straightforward and steady way. He was not seriously shaken in cross-examination. No motive was put to him for what the defendants say is the false implication of Longman, Gibson and Nairn. It crossed my mind to wonder whether he could have simply picked three people at random in order to get the advantage that he sought to get by giving evidence and naming names. If he did pick three people at random it was certainly fortuitous for the plaintiff's case that he picked the three people that he did. We have got standing behind Mrs Gibson the very dishonest Mr Gibson, the man with £100,000 in cash and more where that came from, with vast cash earnings over the relevant period and not a single document to support them or nothing of any substance to support them.
He picked Mr Nairn, also with £30,000 in cash in a plastic bag, also with cash earnings, also without documents to substantiate the matter. Mr Nairn, again, is dishonest because, whether he thinks he borrowed money from the estate, there is no doubt at all that when he took the £30,000 from his deceased father's house he was stealing that money from the estate. So his honesty is not shining. Finally, he picked Mr Longman. Much the same applies to Mr Longman. He also had a lot of cash earnings and of course, there was also a lot of cash coming into that family form Mr Longman's wife's father, Mr Snow.
So if, indeed, these were three people picked purely at random to satisfy his interrogators to name names, he picked three financially interesting people. Most of this trial has been concerned with their explanations as to how they came by large sums of money, in excess of that which was immediately apparent as being their income. It follows therefore that Mr Winwright's evidence is consistent with New's and, indeed, with Hammond's, so far as the honesty of Mr Nairn is concerned, and it points to theft of money by the defendants and prima facie the defendants each have funds in excess of what might reasonably be expected. That adds weight to the allegations made against them.
I find that the plaintiff establishes by the financial analyses that the defendants have funds in excess of what could be expected from their earnings, and that the burden of proof at that point shifts to the defendants to show the provenance of those funds. Some of the explanations that they give as to the provenance of the funds - because this matter has moved on since it started - are accepted by the plaintiff. And in setting out the financial analysis at the beginning of each of the defendant's cases, I have made allowances for that which is accepted; and the plaintiff has moved quite a long way forward. There is therefore no issue on certain items.
That still leaves huge sums of money wholly unaccounted for in any conventional sense of the term. Frankly, I find the explanation of Mr Gibson wholly incredible, and I reject his evidence and, indeed, that of his supporting witnesses. I have no doubt that over a lengthy period he earned some money cash in hand, but nothing like on the scale that he has indicated and nothing like on the scale suggested in the financial analysis.
The same applies in respect of the Longmans. Again, I reject their explanation and their supporting witnesses' explanation. Again, one is looking at a wholly incredible explanation, wholly unsupported in a way that one might reasonably expect as to how they came to be in possession over a period of vast sums of money. Again, so far as the Longmans are concerned, I accept that one or the other of them or, indeed, both of them, may well have earned small sums of cash on the side but, again, nothing like on the scale that I am satisfied they either admit or, indeed, the bank shows as being their financial deficit.
The same goes for the Nairns. I reject their evidence and their supporting evidence. Once again, the evidence really is wholly incredible and totally unsupported in any way that one might reasonably expect given the sums of money concerned.
I do bear in mind, as Mr Wadsworth asked me to do, that I live in the real world and that I should not be surprised at people earning money for cash. I do live in the real world and I am not surprised that people earn money for cash. It is probably a very regular occurrence over a large part of the population. But £30,000 to buy bonds, £100,000 in cash to buy bonds, this level of income is in my view wholly exceptional and simply not believable.
Taken severally, therefore, their stories I find to be unbelievable. Taken together, one is looking at a sum between the three of them of over £300,000 to explain away by way of cash receipts. Whether one takes it severally or whether one takes them jointly in that way, one comes to the same conclusion, that the story is simply unbelievable - especially when faced with the evidence as to where the money may well have come from.
It follows from that that I accept the evidence of Winwright that he stole, with Longman, £150,000 and that he, Gibson and Nairn engaged in systematic theft from the Bank of England. I find that between 1988 and 1992 the defendants had large amounts of cash receipts which were not accounted for by their income. And I reject their evidence as to the provenance of that cash. I find that the financial analysis put forward by the plaintiff supports the allegations against them that they stole the plaintiff's money. And I do so find that each of the defendant's employees stole money from the Bank of England.
As to the position of the spouses, as far as the Gibsons are concerned, having found that Mrs Gibson stole money from the bank, it is accepted, and rightly so, that Mr Gibson must have known about that; and he is liable with her. So far as the Longmans and the Nairns are concerned, both families were in possession of large amounts of cash and cash funds, of which the spouses were aware. Having rejected their explanations, the conclusion that I come to is that the spouses were well aware of the provenance of the money. I am satisfied, therefore, and I find, that the spouses either knew or wilfully shut their eyes to the source of the money, and on that basis they are liable to make good the losses to the plaintiff.
I turn now to deal with the question of quantum. So far as quantum is concerned, it is a difficult area. By their very nature, the thefts that I find took place were secret and no accounts were kept in respect of money so stolen. The bank have got no way themselves of knowing exactly, or even approximately, how much money was stolen, save by way of the financial analysis. So far as the Longmans are concerned, I accept Mr Winwright's evidence in respect of them, that they had £150,000. It follows, therefore, that there will be judgment against Mr and Mrs Longman for the sum of £150,000.
So far as the Gibsons are concerned, the schedules, of course - this is a general criticism of them - do not show what was stolen. They give movements of money around the family finances. They give some indication of the extent of what the bank says is unexplained expenditure or expenditure that can only be explained by reference to theft. The Gibsons have not been, in my view, particularly forthcoming about their financial position. As I indicated, there was very late in the day a bank account disclosed. After Mr Gibson pressed the bank to produce microfiche cheques, there was a fresh account disclosed in the joint names of both Mr and Mrs Gibson, that account now having been closed. What was in it I know not, other than in a very small way. The contents of the safe were not examined by the Police when they were arrested because Mr Gibson did not tell them that it was there.
I am satisfied that they stole money, and doing the best I can on the analysis available, which as I have indicated does not show what money was stolen though it may show a minimum sum of money unaccounted for, I am satisfied that they have stolen not less than £250,000. There will be judgment against them, jointly and severally, in the sum of £250,000.
So far as the Nairns are concerned, the same points apply. Mr Nairns carried out thefts with Mrs Gibson. One would have thought that they might have split it equally, but as to the analysis, again, I make the same points as I have made before in respect of that. But, doing the best I can on the material available to me, I am satisfied that they stole not less than £110,000, and there will be judgment against them, jointly and severally, in the sum of £110,000.