Plymouth businessman found guilty of fraud in Hungary
A PLYMOUTH man has been found guilty of fraud by a court in Budapest.
Jason McGoldrick, and his business partner Michael Turner from Castle Corfe in Dorset defrauded people of sums between £50 and £250 when their marketing company in the Hungarian capital went bust in 2004.
The men were arrested in November 2009 under the controversial European Arrest Warrant. They were handed over to Hungarian police officers at Gatwick Airport in handcuffs and were not allowed a phone call for three weeks.
William Dartmouth, the UKIP MEP for the South West has campaigned on the men's behalf for the past three years. His party opposes the European Arrest Warrant.
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Lord Dartmouth said the men were arrested without any evidence being presented to a British Court.
After a visit to the Budapest prison where the men were locked up for nearly four months, he said that conditions were harsh and that under Hungarian law they could have been held there for up to four years before coming to trial.
As a result of a campaign by the two families and Lord Dartmouth the men were released and allowed to return home to wait for charges to be brought.
Jason McGoldrick was sentenced to seven months suspended for two years and Michael Turner was sentenced to five months suspended for two years.
The judge found them guilty of 53 counts of fraud and not guilty of another 330 counts. Each man was fined 18,000 euros with 2,000 euros costs.
The verdict means they are now free to come home.
Lord Dartmouth, who was at the hearing in Budapest, said: "All along I have said that this was a totally improper use of the European Arrest Warrant which was initially enacted to deal with serious cases such as terrorism, murder or rape.
"This case should and could have been dealt with in a small claims court.
"Nothing can justify these men being marched through Gatwick Airport in handcuffs and being locked up in very harsh conditions for nearly four months."
He added: "The case shows how the standards of justice differ so widely throughout Europe. Michael and Jason have been through an appalling ordeal and have been punished financially.
"Unlike people like Abu Qatada they have had to pay their own legal fees and now face a heavy fine.
"But at least they can now come home to their families and put this all behind them."