May 26, 2022

A former sub-postmaster has described how his life was ruined when he was wrongly sent to jail during the post office scandal.

Harjinder Botoy was convicted of stealing more than £ 200,000 due to computer problems.


Harjinder Batua, 45, said his ‘life was ruined’ when he was wrongly convicted of stealing cash.Credit: Dan Charity.

The 45-year-old man ran the Sutton-in-Ashfield post office with his wife in Ashfield, Notice, until he was arrested, charged and then sentenced in 2008 to three years in prison for “stealing” 8 208,000. Sent to three months in jail.

Mr Buttouy said he was “absolutely outraged” when the verdict was handed down, adding: “I was not prepared for it.

Mr. Botoy was involved in more than 700 subpomasters and subpostresses (SPMs) between 2000 and 2014 – based on false information from the Horizon IT system, which was installed and maintained by Fujitsu.

In December 2019, a High Court judge ruled that Horizon had “bugs, errors and omissions” and that there was a “material risk” that the Post Office branch accounts had been reduced due to the system.

The High Court had in April last year quashed Mr Batwai’s sentence, along with 38 other former postmasters.

Speaking earlier in the day, investigating the scandal, Mr Bowie said his family had been “devastated” by the false sentencing.

He said that between 2004 and 2007, his branch had no problem passing the post office audit – and even a week before his arrest, the audit was signed without any problems.

But on April 24, 2007, he was taken into police custody after an audit found £ 208,000 missing from his branch.

Mr Bowie said he felt “shocked”, “confused” and “embarrassed” because customers had seen him being held by CID officers.

In September 2008, he faced trial in Nottingham Crown Court, where he maintained his position

Innocent and questioned whether Horizon’s information was accurate – but the Post Office insisted it was “100 percent strong.”

He was sentenced to three years and three months in prison – which was considered the largest.

Sentences in Horizon cases – and 60,000 confiscated.

Mr Batoway described his “terrible” ordeal in prison, where he lost more than six stones and was “under daily pressure”.

“I kept thinking about how I got here. I’m just thinking about my family,” he said.

The 45-year-old said it was “terrible” for his wife and three children, who had to move to Chesterfield with their parents after the business closed.

“It was the same for them as it was for me – we were all devastated,” he said. Mr Batowe said he stopped filing for bankruptcy because he was struggling to get 60,000 back.

“Everything is broken for me. I no longer have confidence in myself,” he said.

He added: “I had a really good reputation in public and then I lost it with just one click.”

What he wants from the post office now is: “I want someone to go to jail.”

The inquiry, which is expected to continue for the rest of this year, is examining whether the Post Office was aware of the flaws in the IT system and will also ask how the staff was found guilty. ۔

Inquiry lawyer Jason Beer QC said in his opening remarks that the trial of the victims could be called “the worst breach of justice in recent British legal history”.

Mr. Botoy was the owner of the branch with his wife, Balbunder.


Mr. Botoy was the owner of the branch with his wife, Balbunder.Credit: Dan Charity.

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