The sobering reality of being charged with a crime

Legal Cheek’s Katie King reviews new hard-hitting documentary The Accused: An Inside Job?

Łukasz

A brand new documentary following the trial of man accused of snatching £26,000 from an elderly woman’s bank account will be airing on Channel 5 this month — and students with an interest in criminal law will love it.

The Accused: An Inside Job? comes just months after the TV channel broadcasted a documentary of a similar name (advert embedded below). The first programme, The Accused, followed the story of Kenzey, a defendant charged in January 2016 with allowing physical harm to her seven-week-old daughter. Her young baby suffered what 16 medical experts concluded was a deliberate assault, leaving her brain damaged and severely disabled.

This was, in my opinion, the best law-themed show of 2017 so far. Not least a true reflection of the tough decisions faced by criminal juries, the format of the show and the access it gave viewers was unprecedented.

To me, Kenzey radiated guilt from close to the start. Her trial by Twitter seemed to reach the same conclusion:

As did the jury. The 23-year-old defendant was sentenced to prison for three-and-a-half-years; her boyfriend, who committed the assault, got 18 years.

Though Channel 5’s latest offering lacks the solemnity of a child abuse case, it has the edge over its predecessor in its ‘keeping you guessing’ qualities. The new programme follows 32-year-old Łukasz — a Polish-born personal banker accused of lifting £26,000 from a 78-year-old whose bank account he was looking after. He was charged on two counts, one of fraud by abuse of position, and one of theft.

Like in The Accused, viewers follow the defendant in the months leading up to his trial, and the access is equally fantastic. Police interviews, footage of lawyers out on the road exploring the evidence, after-court reaction from the defendant and his legal team — there was little viewers didn’t see.

But did he do it? The evidence pointed to him, something his lawyers — GT Stewart partner Greg Stewart and 33 Bedford Row’s Ravinder Saimbhi — were keen to make clear to Łukasz pre-trial. However, the defendant protested his innocence throughout the show, alleging a conspiracy.

As a viewer, at times I was sold. Intelligent and charming, Łukasz is a man with two finance-related degrees and, probably rightly, he argued that he’d be “an idiot” to allow all lines of inquiry to lead so seamlessly to him. He added:

It feels like someone is trying to make you responsible for all this, when actually you’re not. There’s still time to investigate this and to find the right person to charge with all this, but nothing has been done. It just makes me feel like no one really bothers.

Whether you buy his defence or not, the devastating impact the charges had on Łukasz were plain to see. After internal banking investigators pointed the finger at Łukasz, the police froze his bank account, he lost his job and he lost his home.

This had a huge emotional impact on the defendant, who revolted at the thought of his peers hearing about the case: “I don’t want people to think I’m the bad guy. I wouldn’t like them to see me that way.” His family — still grieving the recent loss of Łukasz’s father — was hit hard too. His younger brother, Kacper, and stepmother were forced to relocate to Dundee, Scotland, where living costs are drastically cheaper. Łukasz’s FaceTime calls with Kacper, who seemed particularly cut-up over the whole thing, are sure to tug at your heartstrings. Łukasz said before the trial:

It makes me really, really worried about myself, about my family, about my future, about everything I’ve done till now. It’s just the end of my life at some points, I really thought ‘I’m not going to be able to go through this.’

But will the jurors have as much sympathy for Łukasz as I did? You’ll have to tune in to the show, which airs 9pm Monday 31 July on Channel 5, to find out.

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34 Comments

Anonymous

It sounds from the article that he may well actually be innocent, but hard to say without watching it. Unfortunately I am unlikely to as I don’t really have time to watch television due to my important job and very active social life.

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Sir Geffroy De Joinville

If there were any lawyers here, they might note the similarity of LC’s irrational fear of Rastafarians and the case before my confrere the late Sir Richard Rougier in 1999, of the Bengali man with the irrational fear of black men.

Sir Richard advised him to move to Scotland where there are less of them.

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simon p

having watched this, too many questions arise. a big stand out comment — the cameras did not record for 6 months. hello people. 1, this is a bank, surely they must conform at least to iso27001 or higher and have a security based accreditation. follow the trail, why were they not recording, who has access, how often were the faults reported, why was the fix not less than a week. sorry people, look higher up the food chain. management has access and knows intimate details about their staff. the lawyer also seems to imply that someone going to this length would not go into a gay bar in order to carry out this stitch up. if they are going this far, whats a few beers in a gay bar gonna cost them. i cant see how this kid got a fair trial as it would seem these people had blinkers on when looking for evidence, looking to convict with no direction.

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Anonymous

Exactly where is the MONEY????
Something not adding up here !!!
Definitely believe he’s GUILTY!!
,he knows the banking system inside out !!!!!

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David B

I think he was a very good liar. He did not provide a shred of evidence if he thought someone else did it. It didn’t seem to be picked up in the program that during the ‘lost’ interview tape which then showed up, he was told that there was no money in a third account of his, but Lucaz said the last time he checked there should have been 30 k in there: He didn’t bat an eye lid.

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Andy Borland

Astonishing to find out there is no evidence of where the £26k ended up.

The prosecution didn’t know and then, when they did find out they didn’t know, didn’t care. Fair enough I suppose.

However, the defence inexplicably didn’t seem to investigate this either, nor come up with any evidence of investigating fellow employees of Lucasz who, apart from their client, may have been responsible.

To me the defence relied solely on prosecution evidence and didn’t appear to uncover any of their own to help convince a jury of reasonable doubt.

I believed Lucasz from the outset, but the evidence proved me and him wrong.

I’m not guilty, but he clearly was.

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Liz

The issue of where the money ended up is HUUUUGE, and it clearly underlines the problem of being accused of a crime…the PROSECUTION are the ones that have access to the information and the investigative resources. If they only investigate enough to prove guilt, but not get to the bottom of the case, there’s very little that the defence can actually do. Do you think that Santander are going to be falling over themselves to help his defence demonstrate that they did a crappy job of investigating?!

And even more worrying is the advice (which, unfortunately I’m sure is true!) that you shouldn’t use the idea of a CONSPIRACY as your defence because it just looks desperate! Clearly, all any Crook needs to do to get away with something is to make someone ELSE look guilty. Because, after all, who does that?!

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Anonymous

Well after watching the programme very interesting I must say. I would really like to appeal this case on the grounds where is the money , why did the police not question all the Santander team, where is the CCTV . There are more questions than answers. His her and the truth .

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Davey Boy

I thought he was innocent all the way through because I reckoned the show was going to give us a twist at the end.

I really feel sorry for the guy – but the evidence was so against him.

Part of me feels he is innocent but maybe he just thought he was too clever to be caught!

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Anonymous

I’m not anything like 100% convinced he was guilty. I did jury service on a 7 week fraud case once and the two defendants were found guilty, rightly in my view, but Lucasz just didn’t come across as guilty to me. Where did that money go? That’s the crucial question. Was he set up by someone he had a relationship with that knew him from the gay bar he frequented? Was Lucasz protecting that person? Was he in fear of that person? I think he knows more than he admitted to, but guilty? I don’t think so.

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Anonymous

To be honest I thought he was guilty. But there were enough questions in my mind that I might not have convicted if I was on the jury. Maybe. The most damning evidence was the stuff about the gay bar and the identical amounts of money spent on both cards. Oh and the fact that everything was done using his login details. The fact that he couldnt provide evidence for the second cash in hand job made that sound like a lie too. He was very cool under pressure. But a bit too cool. He didn’t seem to react to anything. Great at excuses but very short on detail and that’s not how most people are when confronted with false allegations. A few other little observations, he travelled first class to Scotland which I would never do and definitely not if I was facing a prosecution. He said he sold all his possessions but there was a lovely looking MacBook Air and smartphone there. Even the flat was nicely kitted out. Even the drinks were unbelievably expensive. £6.45 a drink, what was he thinking. He’s someone who likes the finer things in life and that might have been a motivation.

On the other hand the money disappeared. Huge question mark. I would have liked to hear a bit more about that. And it was just the craziest thing to have done. He made no real effort to hide it which makes no sense. And for so little too. £26k is not even a deposit on a flat anymore. All that work, study and sacrifice thrown away for so little. And at the earliest possible stage of his career. If he did it, what on earth was he thinking.

I felt a bit sorry for him and didn’t expect to. He talked about committing suicide at the end and I really hope he doesn’t. I’ve no idea how you resurrect a career after being convicted but I hope he finds a way. If you want a bit of armchair psychology I think he did it and wanted to get caught. He wasn’t happy with the old life and wanted to shake things up massively. Subconsciously obviously. He denied being gay but I thought he probably lied about that too so that might be a root cause. He looked like he was supporting an entire family from an early age which is a big burden to carry too. Of all the crimes you can commit, stealing money from a bank is pretty low down the pecking order.

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Anonymous

Two things: How much money did he have in his FXPRO account before the money disappeared from the old lady’s account? He said he had £30,000 of his own in there. He didn’t seem very upset to find it was empty. And if he thought he had inherited £26,000 from his father why has his stepmother and brother had to move to Dundee because they are broke? Did they not inherit anything?

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Anonymous

Why would they inherit anything, in fact he didn’t, he only though he had, not sure why the solicitor never went in the bar/restaurant, just because it was Gay? Most likely he had been supporting his brother and step mother in London, after his father died, but when he lost his job, had to wait 18 months for the case to come to court he was running out of money

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Tinder Rinder

There are so many similarities here to the case of convicted Forex Ponzi scheme fraudster Alex Hope. Repressed homosexuality can lead to a general dishonesty about other things and the sense of right and wrong gets clouded when people are in a position of trust with other people’s money. The FX account was not properly explored and if it was it may have held the key to the motivation for the offence or the ultimate destination of the money which was probably blackmail ( because Polish Catholics frown on it ) or a Forex gambling habit fuelled by his own over inflated ego because he viewed himself as ” qualified ” because he sat in a college for a few years. Both the defence and the prosecution team were woefully weak and did little to prepare him for the onslaught he was going to face to his paper thin conspiracy defence. A financial psychopath can present as the most polite and nice person you could ever meet but their actions betray them in the end which is exactly what happened here.

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Anonymous

I’m not sure about the repressed homosexuality theory to be honest. And I’m not sure he was that repressed in any case if he was a regular at a London gay bar. He might not be out – that’s definitely possible – but then that’s the case with lots of people and I’m not sure they’re any more dishonest than anyone else. You can still be in the closet without being dishonest.

I thought he was probably guilty but I’m still sitting on the fence because we never heard where the money went. That’s crucial information. I can’t imagine why he would have done it though. He’s thrown away a decade of sacrifice and study for a measly sum of money. Even if he’d done it for £260k I’d have been surprised.

On the other hand foreigners can be reckless because they feel they have less to lose. I know I was when I lived abroad. Not that I robbed banks but I didn’t care or worry too much about things that the natives got worked about. Silly little rules and regulations. Whereas at home I’m terrified of the getting into trouble with the police.

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Anonymous

I was hooked from the start. I was hoping he would be found not guilty. He generally thought he wasn’t guilty otherwise he would have entered a plea of guilty and probably escaped a jail sentence. When his out of prison finding a job will be difficult with a criminal record for fraud under your belt. The years spent studying to gain 2 degrees for just a few thousand pound and his life put on hold while the evidence was gathered. He was paying cash in to his own private bank account and then said he had a cash in hand job which he couldn’t prove but if he was as intelligent as I thought he was why did he pay it into his own account he must have known this would be investigated if he was to ever get caught.
Was someone else involved who he didn’t want to mention perhaps someone from the gay bar that he visited. Perhaps I shouldn’t say but I generally liked him.

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Anonymous

I did not feel he was guilty, and the missing money is a concern, why was this trail not investigated? but a worry which many who viewed are raising there is no trace of this cour case at all? just a Lindekin account no longer used, same with twitter?

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Anonymous

Many years ago I was a bank inspector for another bank and investigated a number of similar cases to this one. This should have been a straightforward case but many obvious questions and facts were omitted along the way to stretch the programme and deliberately keep the viewer guessing.

The question of “follow the money” was raised but not elaborated upon in the programme. The bank’s audit trails would clearly show what went where and when and should have shown by whom. Money was withdrawn via atm machines. These all have pinhole cameras which take a photo of the person putting the card in. He claimed he thought the money in his account was from his father’s inheritance but never sought to prove there was ever such a thing. Most importantly was what motive could anyone else have had to do it, as he claimed, when there was no benefit to them?

He was as guilty as hell from the moment the programme started but you can’t make an hour long programme last that long unless you stretch it out the way the producers did.

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