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A security company executive who gave a bribe of a car to a council officer has escaped paying a£15,000 prosecutio...
A security company executive who gave a bribe of a car to a council officer has escaped paying a£15,000 prosecution legal costs bill - because a judge made the order too early.

Michael Threapleton of East Hardwick, Pontefract, was sentenced to 18 months jail - reduced to 12 months on appeal - after being convicted at Hull Crown Court in July last year.

He had been found guilty of corruptly giving a bribe - a Fiat Uno car worth£5,445 - to Roger Dearnley, an employee of Doncaster MBC.

Dearnley was convicted of corruption and his 18-month sentence also was cut to 12 months last year.

On 4 August last year a judge ordered Threapleton to pay£15,000 towards the costs of the prosecution. And in January this year, the same judge imposed a£15,000 confiscation order.

London's criminal appeal court today quashed the costs order, but found there were no grounds to challenge the confiscation order.

Mr justice Stanley Burnton, sitting with Lord justice Waller and Mr justice Rougier, found the costs order was unlawful as it was made before the confiscation order.

Under the Criminal Justice Act, when a judge makes a costs order he must taken into account the impact of any confiscation order.

'The crown conceded, as was inevitable, that the judge should not have made the costs order before making the confiscation order,' Mr justice Stanley Burnton said.

'It follows that the order was one that could not lawfully have been made, and that it must be quashed.'

He rejected a crown submission that the appeal court should now make the same costs order made by the judge.

'To do so would be to condone the fact that the requirements of the 1988 Act were not complied with,' he said.

'Those requirements are not merely formal, they are intended to ensure that the determination of the amount payable under a confiscation order has priority over, in this case, an order for the payment of costs.'

He said the amount payable under a confiscation order depended on a defendant's realisable property and the statute meant the property should not have been depleted by an order for costs.

Mr justice Stanley Burnton pointed out it was the duty of counsel for both the prosecution and defence to have brought the Act's provisions to the attention of the judge before he made the costs order.

The bribe charge related to Threapleton giving Dearnley the car in February 1993.

It was said to be a reward for council contracts being awarded to Executive Security Limited or as an inducement to Dearnley to award or assist in awarding further contracts to Executive Surveillance and Security Limited.


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