Former sub-postmaster sees end to false charges misery

A FORMER West Byfleet sub-postmaster is nearing the end of a 15-year ordeal in which she was wrongly jailed on theft charges.

Seema Misra’s appeal against her conviction for stealing £75,000 from the Post Office is not being challenged.

Seema Misra is following the advice of the poster on her front door and looking forward to her ordeal ending

This means she is likely to see the guilty verdict – which ruined her life and that of her husband and led her to thoughts of suicide – quashed.

The Post Office prosecuted more than 550 sub-postmasters for theft and fraud due to severe flaws in its computerised accounting system, called Horizon.

In December 2019, the Criminal Cases Review Commission started looking into whether the convictions were miscarriages of justice and the case of Mrs Misra is one of 47 so far sent to the Appeal Court.

This week, she welcomed being one of the 44 appeals that are not being contested by the Post Office. “But it’s not over for us yet,” added Mrs Misra, aged 45, who now lives in Knaphill with her husband Davinder and sons aged 19 and nine.

“There are a lot of legal processes to go through before it’s finally over. My solicitors are going through them now.”

Mrs Misra bought the shop with its Post Office counter in 2005 and Horizon began to signal deficits almost immediately. At first, the shortfalls were below £100 but unexplained deficits of several thousand pounds started to appear after a few months.

She was suspended as sub-postmaster in 2008 and then prosecuted by the Post Office, later to find that she was one of hundreds of victims of faults in the Horizon system.

She is bitter about the lack of help from the Post Office over the persistent Horizon shortfalls and its insistence that the discrepancies were caused by her stealing rather than IT faults.

But she added: “I blame the whole judicial system for me being convicted and sent to prison.

“The judge clearly said at the end of my trial that there was no evidence that I had taken any money, but the jury still found me guilty. Why did he let that happen? Why didn’t he stop the case?”

Mrs Misra was sentenced to 15 months’ prison at Guildford Crown Court in October 2010, on the day of her older son’s 10th birthday and when she was two months pregnant with her second son. She said she would have killed herself after hearing the verdict if she had not been expecting a baby.

She served four months in Bronzefield jail at Ashford, Surrey, locked up with drug addicts and terrified by inmates who were self-harming, before being released early for good behaviour.

The family moved to Sheerwater and then to Knaphill when Mrs Misra came out of prison and have found it difficult to rent or buy a house. She has also been unable to get a new job because of her criminal record.

“My husband has set up a taxi business and I take the calls and bookings,” she said.

However, she is confident that her conviction will be quashed, and her life will improve. “At least it’s moving in my direction.”

Recommended For You

About the Author: Editorial Team