Jailed millionaires who conned Candy brothers given £200k in legal aid

Jailed millionaires who conned Candy brothers given £200k in legal aid


Two millionaire criminals who swindled the Candy brothers in a £6.5 million fraud have been given more than £200,000 in legal aid despite owning properties and other assets.

The case is the starkest example yet of suspects being handed financial aid despite having huge assets, reported the Evening Standard. The legal aid bill is set to rise above £341,000.

The Candy brothers paid £6.5 million for a 47-acre site in Berkshire, formerly owned by the King and Queen of Thailand and currently by a billionaire Saudi sheikh, which the pair and two other conmen had pretended to own.

Ringleaders John Mervyn Jones, from Shipton by Beningbrough, near York, and Michael John Downer, of Bartlow in Cambridgeshire, were jailed for six years and five years respectively in March 2009 for the “white collar” fraud.

The scam was so well orchestrated that the Land Registry didn’t spot it and allowed the land sale to go ahead. The sheikh was even unaware that his land had been “sold”.

The 2004 fraud against Christian and Nick Candy involved the King's Beeches site in Sunninghill. The profits were banked in Spain, Ireland, Liechtenstein and Britain.

Mr Jones, 65, who has been ordered by judges to repay £2.5 million, has been given almost £150,000 despite owning properties in Yorkshire and Portugal, revealed the Evening Standard.

Mr Downer, 65, who owns a Cambridgeshire cottage, three cars, two of which are Mercedes, and shares in two apartments in Turkey, has been given aid of more than £58,000.

The two other accomplices who were jailed over the scam, John Clifford Williams, 68, and Malcolm Congreve Brown, 72, both from Buckinghamshire, have also had legal aid.

The bill for Mr Williams stands at £110,000, even though he owns a cottage in Slough, two cars and a share of a High Wycombe house, and has been ruled by a Reading crown court judge to have made more than £167,000 from cheating the Candy’s, which must be repaid.

Mr Brown, whose assets include a share of a Slough house, has been given nearly £23,000 in legal aid.

The combined £341,000 legal aid bill for the four is certain to rise, once you factor it further lawyers' bills that have yet to be submitted.

All four have received legal aid as a result of their assets being held under "restraint" by the state during their court appearances, which therefore deemed that they have insufficient wealth to pay their own bills.

Max Hill, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said millions of pounds were being wasted and the flawed rules should be changed.

After the fraud was spotted by the Candy brothers, they launched – and won – a civil action case against the Land Registry. The legal action resulted in the Land Registry’s biggest ever compensation payment of £8 million, including legal fees, to the Candy’s and HBOS.

The Serious and Organised Crime Agency has won confiscation orders totalling more than £3.7 million against the fraudsters.

All four face extra jail time if they refuse to pay.

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