Ten accused avoid car fraud trial

John Marshall was fined at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
John Marshall was fined at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Prosecutors have defended a decision to charge 11 people with car fraud - after only one of them ended up being convicted.

Amanda Murphy (37) was ordered to do 225 hours of unpaid community work when she appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court at the end of a legal saga that had dragged on for two years.

She was one of 11 people charged during the summer of 2013 with operating a major car fraud in Lanarkshire.

They all appeared in court after a lengthy police investigation into allegations that vehicles were bought using false documents from dealerships in Motherwell, Wishaw and Hamilton in 2010 and 2011.

The accused at that stage included estate agent Bernadette Murphy and her husband Michael, of Cleland. Bernadette Murphy’s Hamilton office had closed in 2010 after a court winding-up order was sought by HM Customs and Excise.

Last year the case was due to go to trial against only four accused, but was abandoned after a sheriff refused the Crown permission to lodge more than 2,000 pages of documents at the last minute.

The defence said it was unfair to produce such a mass of paperwork at that stage, but the prosecution defended the move, saying staff had to plough through ‘numerous’ documents for what was a ‘complex’ case.

The case was resurrected against Amanda Murphy, of Airdrie, only. She admitted a charge of obtaining one car worth £18,000 by fraud and her not guilty pleas to three similar charges were accepted.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances, including the available admissible evidence, the procurator fiscal decided there should be no further proceedings taken at different stages in the proceedings against those accused.

“The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available.”

Accepting just one guilty plea from Murphy had ‘eliminated the risk of not obtaining a conviction after trial’.

More from the court in the Times & Speaker, out on Wednesday.