Appeal court cuts sentence in $2M theft

| 07/11/2016 | 20 Comments
Cayman News Service

Michelle Bouchard, escorted by police officers

(CNS): A Canadian woman’s 12-year jail sentence for stealing over $2 million from her elderly boyfriend has been reduced to ten years by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. Michelle Bouchard (55) was handed the lengthy term in April by the trial judge, Justice Paul Worsley, who described the theft as being on an “eyewatering scale”. But Peter Carter QC successfully argued on Bouchard’s behalf that the sentence was too harsh given her age, previous good character and the offers she has made about paying back almost $1.5 milion.

Following a morning of argument by Carter and Simon Russell Flint QC, who was instructed by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the appeal court judges revealed their decision to quash and replace the original term and said they would give a written judgment before the end of this session setting out their reasons.

Carter had argued that the judge should have given Bouchard around eight years because the sentence was “huge” for a woman of her age who had never been in jail before. He accepted that Bouchard’s offence was serious but said the harm she did was not the worst of this type of crime.

Bouchard had conned James Handford, her vulnerable elderly boyfriend, out of the cash and recorded her crime in a diary. But her lawyer pointed out that, despite the amount, there was just one victim and Handford was a wealthy man and the loss was by no means his life savings.

The court heard that Bouchard and the crown are in talks regarding the confiscation of the money she stole. Carter said Bouchard had saved the bulk of the money she took from her victim because her intention had been to create “a nest egg” for herself in case Handford tired of her or died.

Bouchard has offered to pay back around $1.5 million to make restitution for the crime. Carter argued that, given all of the mitigating factors, the total sentence handed down by the judge for the 25 counts out of 26 on which was convicted was simply too long.

On behalf of the crown, Flint argued that the judge did have the totality in mind throughout his sentencing ruling. He said Bouchard had transferred around $1 million from Cayman to Canada in a very short time period, just before she was arrested when she became aware that she was under suspicion. He said that this aggravating factor was why the judge ordered that the sentence he gave Bouchard for the money laundering was to run consecutively to the time given for the theft and forgery charges, rather than concurrently, which resulted in a total of twelve years.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    she deserves what she got- she was doing it in Canada too before moving and yes, I’ve known her for a very long time. You reap what you sow.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have known Michelle for close to 40 years. Ambitious and strong, yes, a money launderer and thief, no. This doesn’t ring right!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I know Michelle, this isn’t right. It’s crazy that they just throw away the key like that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree that this is an extremely harsh sentence for someone who was in a relationship with someone and a signatory on the gentleman’s account.

    Yet rapists and sexual offenders pretty much receive a slap on wrist.

    And you wonder why this Island is in the utter mess that it is.

  5. anonymous says:

    Why Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was never investigated for misappropriation of public funds?

  6. Anonymous says:

    incase some of you are not aware Money laundering is a serious offense. Majority of her time given isn’t because of the money she stole but for MONEY LAUNDERING.

    • Anonymous says:

      money laundering: the concealment of the origins of ILLEGALLY obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.
      She obtained the money legally.

  7. Anonymous says:

    She so fine!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is still an outragous sentence for something which amounts to gold digging. She was a signatory to the accounts she took from for god sake! Although morally dubious i cant for the life of me see how she did anything criminal. At the time the man was compus mentus and had every right to give his companion access and usage of his funds which he did by making her co-signatory. If my husband takes money from our joint account is he a thief? Of course not! Because the moment it went into our joint account it became his money as much as it is mine.

    • Anonymous says:

      Morning my lord. So many members of the Privy Council commenting on CNS today.

    • anonymous says:

      5.52 agree. She was legally entitled to the money in the joined bank account. I am dumfounded with her sentence. They vilified and demonised her when many just get a slap on a hand sentences.
      This reminds me Mechele Linehan case in Alaska, she was given a life sentence, later overturned. She was a former exotic dancer, manipulated men and was beautiful. This did not go well with the mostly women jury.

      Michelle Bouchard needs new attorney who should try to overturn her sentence which is based on the “dairy” admission as evidence. There was a case just like that in the UK that was overturned.

      • Anonymous says:

        While I do not agree with what she did, I very much disagree with this sentence. She certainly requires a new attorney and her Government he pressure the court of the islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      wasn’t her husband, golddigger…

  9. anonymous says:

    Yet sex offenders get a slap on a hand. Nothing makes sense anymore.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Poor woman, such harsh treatment on such flimsy evidence.

  11. Henry says:

    Deportation in order?

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