Belfast Telegraph

Legal history after court hearing conducted in the back of a taxi

Legal history was made in Northern Ireland today when an alleged fraudster was committed for trial seated in the rear of a taxi. 

Around a dozen people, District Judge Alan White, his bodyguards, court security staff, administration staff, prison officers and lawyers for the defence and prosecution, upped sticks from Antrim Magistrates' Court into the carpark where 62-year-old Olga Hadassagh Charlton sat in the back of minicab.

As the bewildered looking driver stood off to one side and with Charlton leaning against the rear glass, the Preliminary Enquiry was conducted in the open air of the chilly carpark. 

Charlton, from the Seacliff Road in Bangor, is accused that on December 11, 2007 she took out a £40,000 loan by falsely claiming she was suffering from a life threatening illness, for which an operation was needed urgently, and was to be carried out privately.

She had claimed she would repay the loan after three months at an interest rate of 10% a month. 

She is further charged with converting criminal property, namely cash and bank drafts of £40,000 on dates between December 10, 2007 and October 8, 2010. 

A prosecution lawyer submitted, in the car park, that there was a prima facie case against Charlton and defence lawyer Neil Moore did not make any contrary submissions. 

Leaning in through the opened driver door, a court clerk asked the alleged fraudster if she wished to call or give evidence herself, but she declined to do so.

District Judge White committed Charlton for trial at Antrim Crown Court and releasing Charlton on her own bail of £300, ordering her to be arraigned next month.

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