The director of an estate agent business based in Hoxley near Bolton is facing being £277,000 out of pocket after mounting an expensive private prosecution of a former director.
The private legal action came about to secure a conviction of the fraudulent colleague who had stolen £76,352 from the company’s bank account and pilfered tenancy deposits from renters.
Three years ago estate agent Stephen Laycock, who at the time ran Platinum Properties, took co-director Timothy Shinners to court over the fraud after Greater Manchester Police declined to recommend the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, saying they didn’t have the resources available.
Laycock subsequently decided to persevere and took out loans totalling £400,000 to fund a private prosecution, leaving him £277,000 of out of pocket. But he is now awaiting a High Court decision which he hopes will mean the remainder of his costs will be reimbursed. Anyone launching a private prosecution like this should expect to have their costs returned.
Nevertheless, the prosecution in 2017 was successful and Shinners was found guilty and given a three-year prison sentence for his crimes, the proceeds of which he used to fund a luxury lifestyle. Shinners was released after a year and has been working recently at Online Estate Agents Ltd. His photo was on its website until yesterday, but has now been removed.
Laycock told the Daily Mail that he was determined to ensure that justice was done.
The case lays bare the huge financial and resource pressures that many police forces are feeling after years of austerity. Greater Manchester Police told Laycock that part of their reason for not pursuing a prosecution was its ‘stretched resources’.