Baines advocate should have gone to prison

GUILTY: Advocate Jenny Holt

GUILTY: Advocate Jenny Holt

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CONVICTED former advocate Jenny Holt has had her appeal dismissed after a one-day hearing before Deemsters David Doyle and Geoffrey Tattersall QC.

Holt’s barrister Anthony Berry QC told the court a submission of no case to answer during the original trial should have been allowed.

He said the Crown had relied too heavily on inference when deciding Holt knew the source of a £400,000 loan from the Hermitage Securities Trust. The money was used to pay legal fees for Trevor and Wendy Baines.

Mr Baines was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in prison after being found guilty of stealing nearly £900,000 earlier this year.

His wife, 52, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing £400,000.

Holt worked as a junior advocate for legal firm Moroneys and was part of the team representing the Baineses.

‘Our case is that it is extremely speculative to suggest Miss Holt knew during her discussions with the Bainses that any loan would not be allowed,’ Mr Berry said.

‘There was no evidence that the £400,000 paid in to Moroney’s bank account was known by her to have come from the Hermitage Trust; she was just told that the money had come in.

‘Mr Baines was a very considerable and accomplished crook and had been convicted of false accounting to the tune of £200m.

‘He had an extravagant lifestyle way, way beyond his means and he had managed to hoodwink people that he was one of the richest men on the planet.

‘But he certainly did not have any money in the years preceding these events.

‘There is no way Miss Holt would have known he was not as rich as he said.’

Mr Berry also cited what he called ‘deficiencies’ in the summing up by the trial judge Deemster David Turner.

He said the deemster lavished praise on prosecution counsel David Farrer’s advocacy saying: ‘His economy and intellectual analysis had suffused the whole case.’

By comparison he said he was described as ‘more earthy, more amusing’ and his presentation was ‘put in an attractive way’, which he claimed undermined its validity in the eyes of the jury.

He said the case had been rushed and there was some inaccuracy in Deemster Turner’s summing-up. He added the wording of the deemster’s direction to the jury had implied they should find Holt guilty but in return he would ensure she would not go to prison.

‘In effect he was saying to the jury “you convict her and I’ll let her off’’,” Mr Berry said.

The respondent’s advocate David Farrer QC told the court it was not feasible that ‘any qualified lawyer, even one who knew nothing about the terms of the trust’, would not have raised questions over the trust fund money.

He added: ‘To say her knowledge of this was tenuous is unsustainable.’

Commenting on Deemster Turner’s summing up, he said the ‘folksy style may not be to everybody’s taste, but how it affects this case is hard to see’.

He added: ‘To say that it is unsafe on the basis of a few words is to exaggerate the impact of those words on seven individual jurors. It is not a foundation for over-turning these verdicts.’

He added: ‘Mr Berry was being over-sensitive. The judge was seeking to contrast two different styles of advocacy.’

After dismissing the appeal, the court then considered whether Holt’s original sentence had been appropriate and whether it should be increased.

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