AN ACCOUNTANT who was jailed for illegally tipping-off his client, security boss Ernie Bewick, that he was under investigation has had his sentence cut by a third on appeal.
Kishor Doshi, 60, of Dunelm South, Sunderland, was jailed for 18 months at Newcastle Crown Court in February after he was convicted of prejudicing an investigation and admitted failing to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
But two senior judges, sitting at London’s Court of Appeal, ruled his jail term “manifestly excessive” and sliced it to one year, meaning he could be released next month.
Judge Martin Stephens QC told the court Doshi was a tax adviser to Mr Bewick, who was investigated by police between December 2007 and the start of 2010.
As part of their investigation they served a “production order” on Doshi in November 2009, which demanded that he give up all of Mr Bewick’s accounts and records.
The court heard that, despite the order explicitly preventing him from informing Mr Bewick, Doshi rang him the next day, alerting him to the investigation.
Police spotted the 20-minute call on Doshi’s phone records and later arrested him. He admitted having told Mr Bewick, but said he had done so mistakenly because he had not read the order fully.
He was found guilty of prejudicing the investigation. He also admitted that he had failed to comply with money laundering laws which required him to register with HMRC. He claimed he had not known about the requirements.
At the Court of Appeal, Andrew Rutter, for Doshi, said his 18-month sentence was too long considering he is a 60-year-old man and there was no evidence that his phone call had any material effect on the investigation into Mr Bewick.
Judge Stephens, sitting with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, ruled that Doshi’s prison stretch was too long and cut it to 12 months, meaning he will be entitled to automatic release after six months in jail.
He said: “The point that needed to be made is that production orders made by the court must be respected and the requirements imposed on recipients of such orders must be faithfully carried out without disclosing to potential wrongdoers what might be under way.
“That point had been made by the severe punishment of a prison sentence. We do not think however that a sentence as long as 18 months was necessary in this case.”
Judges also reduced the length of Doshi’s disqualification from being the director of a company from six to four years.