A woman convicted of stealing an estimated $1.9 million in cash and property from an elderly Australian man she befriended had her 12-year prison sentence reduced to 10 years by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, an accountant convicted of stealing nearly US$500,000 from two investment funds he directed during a liquidation process did not have any time added to his three-and-a-half year prison sentence by the appeals court.
The three-member Court of Appeal consisting of Justices Sir Bernard Rix, Sir George Newman and Sir Alan Moses did not give any reasons for their decisions in the respective cases Monday afternoon, but indicated written judgments in each of the cases would be forthcoming.
The one-time caretaker who befriended an elderly Australian multimillionaire, was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in April and sought to lower her sentence during the hearing Monday morning.
Bouchard’s attorney, Peter Carter, QC, sought to convince the court that such a lengthy sentence was well outside what a woman in her ‘50s with no prior criminal convictions deserved.
“The simple ground of appeal in this case is that 12 years for this woman for these offenses is too long,” Mr. Carter said.
Bouchard was convicted on 25 of 26 criminal counts which related generally to what prosecutors said was a scheme to steal money from James Handford, her elderly employer, with whom she had developed a relationship.
Mr. Carter suggested that “seven to eight years” would have been a more reasonable sentence. He also stated that Bouchard has agreed to hand over assets totalling about $1.6 million, including $1.4 million in cash and a condominium valued at $250,000. An asset forfeiture hearing is set for Tuesday, the appeals court heard.
The Crown argued that Bouchard, in addition to stealing money from Mr. Handford, had sought to “hide” some of the stolen assets in a Canadian bank. Canada has no legal assistance treaty with the Cayman Islands and Court of Appeal justices queried whether some of the Canadian money had gone “missing.”
It was stated that Mr. Handford’s family might have to employ other means to “track down” the funds, if any remained, in Canada.
Mr. Carter said his client was ready and willing to pay some $1.6 million in frozen assets located in Cayman – making good on the majority of the amounts she was convicted of stealing (about $1.9 million).
“Whatever your lordships decide, Ms. Bouchard is going to be in prison for a long time and she’s not going to have any assets,” Mr. Carter said.
The former Deloitte funds manager pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing about US$495,000 from two U.S.-based investment funds he was directing on behalf of his employer during a liquidation process.
Aspinall was sentenced to three-and-a-half years on one of the two theft charges against him. Sentences for the other theft charge, as well as money laundering and forgery allegations, were ordered to run concurrently by the trial judge, Justice Timothy Owen.
Crown prosecutors, led by Simon Russell-Flint, QC, argued that the sentence was “unduly lenient,” suggesting that Justice Owen had given Aspinall less than the minimum acceptable guidelines suggested for a serious theft offense.
Mr. Russell-Flint argued that the trial judge appeared to have considered only one of the victims in Aspinall’s theft when in fact there were multiple victims, including the investors in the two American funds Deloitte had been appointed to manage, as well as the Deloitte firm itself.
“He went to considerable lengths to obtain the monies and to ensure there was little likelihood of him being identified as the person behind [the thefts],” Mr. Russell-Flint stated.
Given the facts presented in the case, the Crown asked that Aspinall’s sentence be extended to between five and six years.
Aspinall’s defense team, led by Charles Miskin, QC, essentially argued that the Crown was seeking another bite at the apple on a case they had already agreed to plead out.
Prosecutors disagreed with Aspinall’s plea only when they learned the length of the sentence, Mr. Miskin stated, and had presented nothing to justify why the accountant’s sentence had been “unduly lenient,” seeking to draw “additional inferences” that were not brought up during the original sentencing hearing.
“It’s not as simple as bringing Mr. Russel-Flint down here, polishing up the ball and having another go at the wicket,” Mr. Miskin said.