Solicitor firm’s fraud trial postponed for a year

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Three people accused of embezzling £900,000 out of a law firm must wait more than a year to stand trial after new evidence came to light.

Emma Coates, 46, of West Street, Selsey, Simon Kenny, 59, of Old Hunt Stables, Catsfield, together with Stephen Hiseman, 57, of Morzine, France, are facing fraud charges relating to CK Solicitors in Selsey, which closed in 2012.

The trio were due to stand trial yesterday (September 28) at Southwark Crown Court but 11 boxes of new evidence were unearthed last week.

The boxes, believed to contain original documents from the company’s offices, now need to be examined by the legal teams before the trial can take place.

Kenny and Coates both attended court to see their trial date pushed back until November 7, 2016.

Hiseman did not attend after getting stuck travelling back from America.

The evidence was missed in searches made by the police and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the court heard.

Kenny and Coates each face one count of false accounting between July, 2006, and January, 2007, and fraud between January and May, 2011, with Coates facing a further fraud charge dating between January, 2013, and November, 2014.

All three defendants are also charged with fraud between January, 2008, and March, 2011.

Judge Deborah Taylor said realistically the case would not be ready to start next week, meaning it would have to be postponed.

The trial is estimated to last between four and six weeks.

The trio were charged by police in April, 2014, after detectives with the Sussex Police Major Fraud Unit began investigating the firm in 2012 over an alleged disappearance of around £900,000 from client accounts at the firm.

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