One of Northern Ireland’s best known psychics has won an appeal against being found guilty of fraud offences at a care home.
Judges declared Patrick Doak’s convictions for false accounting unsafe after hearing new evidence from a former colleague who countersigned money sheets at the former Owenvale Court residential home in Belfast.
The spiritualist (52), who has always protested his innocence, said outside court: “I have had my character and my career destroyed.”
The charges, involving less than £100 in total, dated back to September 2006 when he managed facilities run at the time by St John of God.
Money was regularly entrusted to senior staff on behalf of residents at the home on the Springfield Road.
Mr Doak had been found guilty last year on five counts of false accounting. He received a one-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
But his lawyers went to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to overturn the convictions, arguing that he was wrongly found to have acted dishonestly in dealing with new balance sheets created to correct staff errors.
A residential worker who co-signed the sheets but never testified at the trial gave evidence on his behalf. The prosecution accepted her account raised issues which could potentially have gone before the jury.
Allowing the appeal, the judges held that the co-signatory operated to ensure the “integrity” of the ledger as well as confirming the amounts.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justice Weatherup and Mr Justice Colton, confirmed the new evidence could have been relevant to the case made by Mr Doak.
“For that reason we consider the convictions in relation to the five counts are unsafe,” he said.
Although the prosecution could still seek a retrial, the Chief Justice noted the passage of time. “One might wonder whether there’s a great deal to be served by it.”