Judge spares ill, 28-stone man jail because his condition would ‘disrupt prison service’

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Barry Beardall
Barry Beardall outside court in 2018

A “THOROUGHLY manipulative” Ringwood man who helped investment scammers launder money was spared jail due to the burden he would cause prison services.

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Because of his 28-stone frame and ill-health, Barry Beardall (74) requires carers to get him out of bed and administer his medication. Judge Peter Henry told Southampton Crown Court that would cause too much “disruption” to justify sending him down.

Prosecutor Graham Gilbert said John Ryan, an Irish national, invested more than £10,000 in a company in 2016 but was subsequently contacted by someone who told him it was in trouble and he should transfer his money into another firm called Mackenzie & Brook.

Mr Ryan carried out due diligence on the company and found it had a website, accounts and looked legitimate so completed the transfer. However, the company was not real.

The £13,000 he transferred in three separate instalments in October 2016, in fact, went into Beardall’s account. Subsequently around £3,700 was transferred to two people who have not been traced, £2,360 into another of the defendant’s accounts and the rest went to a firm.

Having realised he had been scammed, Mr Ryan alerted Action Fraud, which investigated and eventually caught up with Beardall midway through 2018, Mr Gilbert said.

The prosecutor told the court that around this time Beardall had narrowly avoided jail for a similar offence.

Another £13,000 had gone into his accounts as part of a scam, for which he was eventually charged. Beardall pleaded guilty and was given a nine-month suspended sentence in February 2018.

Judge Henry told the court he had been the judge in that case and noted Beardall committed the new offences while involved in those proceedings.

Beardall, of Harry Burrows Close, appeared on Tuesday having pleaded guilty to one charge of converting criminal property.

Before doing so he had asked for a Goodyear Indication – where a judge suggests what punishment he will give is there is a guilty plea – and when that request was refused, Beardall initially denied the offence and a trial date was set.

In court Judge Henry suggested Beardall’s denial was in the hope the prosecution might eventually drop the matter because a trial would be costly. It appeared that Beardall changed his plea to admit his guilt only when it became clear a trial would happen.

Defence barrister Richard Martin said his client had “buried his head in the sand” and made a “whopping mistake”. He had been working from home as a bookkeeper and providing clients with accountancy advice but was now on benefits, Mr Martin added.

Beardall was in ill-health and required carers, he said, pointing out this would make things very difficult for prison services if he were to go down.

Prior to sentencing Beardall, Judge Henry noted the defendant had been ordered to pay only £1 in compensation in regards to his previous laundering offending.

Yet in a pre-sentence report Barry Beardall said he “recently” inherited £25,000 and the judge wondered where that had come from and if it had been declared – adding the previous confiscation proceedings could be reopened and some of the inheritance money used to pay back more.

But Mr Martin said his client had spent all but £2,500 of it – which had already been earmarked for work to create a wheelchair ramp to his bungalow.

“In my judgement you thoroughly deserve a custodial sentence,” Judge Henry told Beardall. “But the question I have to ask myself is, were I to do so, whether it would be disproportionate.”

Calling Beardall “thoroughly manipulative”, the judge said sending him down would have “an enormous disruption on the prison service”, and instead gave him a 12-month prison term, suspended for two years.

He ordered the defendant pay Mr Ryan £2,500 compensation and urged the Crown Prosecution Service to revisit the previous confiscation order.

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