Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Honesty doesn't pay

I like to think I'm an honest man, opinionated yes, but I'd like to believe if I found a bundle of money in the street or on someone's premises, that I'd hand it in...
Well at least until today I did...
An honest builder who handed in nearly £18,000 in cash to police after he found it stashed in a fire-damaged flat will go without any reward following a High Court judge's ruling.
Steven Fletcher found the hoard of 'neatly bundled' notes in a metal box in a burnt-out property he was renovating in King Street, Leicester, in September 2011.
The £17,940 cash haul - all in £20 notes and neatly packaged into £1,000 bundles - was concealed under a kitchen unit.
The flat had been empty since a fire gutted it six months earlier and Mr Fletcher immediately handed in his find to police.
But a High Court judge has ruled Mr Fletcher does not have any right to the cash after police failed to trace its origins.
Police experts and forensic analysts examined the mysterious hoard. Drug-testing was, however, 'inconclusive', although some notes showed minute traces of cocaine.
Magistrates nevertheless ordered forfeiture of the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act after Leicestershire's Chief Constable, Simon Cole, successfully argued that it probably came from 'unlawful criminal conduct'.
I was always under the impression that lack of evidence doesn't constitute proof, though it does appear that the legal system of the UK operates under different rules (surprise, surprise)
Now it may well be that the cash was being used for criminality, or was the proceeds from criminal activity, but there's no evidence that it was (or wasn't)
There is of course the drug traces, however as the Mail itself told the world back in 2010...
Every bank note in the UK is contaminated with cocaine within weeks of entering circulation, experts have revealed.
Police have stopped testing notes for traces of the drug in criminal investigations as the contamination is so widespread.
According to the Forensic Science Service the results are now meaningless as every note tests positive for cocaine.
So, other than the fact that the police were suspicious about the way that the notes were carefully sortied into bundles of one denomination which meant they were 'unlikely to be the profits of legitimate cash trading in their eyes and in the eyes of the court. This along with the fact that no-one came forward to claim the cash meant they felt justified in keeping it.
I'd be willing to bet the next time Mr Fletcher or anyone else reading the Mail article finds a wad of cash hidden away, handing it in to the police will not figure in their thought processes.

2 annotations:

Oldrightie said...

Probably pay for a Plod Christmas piss up.

StourbridgeRantBoy said...

It'll all be spent on fucking chocolate muffins and there definately won't be a crumb of evidence!

Laurie -