Film and theatre producer successful appeal
By Court reporter | 14th February 2023
A 49-year-old film and theatre producer who was convicted in 2022 of stealing a Porsche car has cleared his name at an appeal hearing where the prosecution dropped the case against him.
Barry Satchwell-Smith of Upper House Farm, Upleadon, near Newent, Glos, told Gloucester Crown Court last Friday (February 9) that his conviction - and the local publicity which followed it - had 'made my life hell.' His business had been affected and it cost him work, he said.
He described his conviction as 'absolutely ludicrous' and said the magistrates who heard his case at Cheltenham last summer had no justification for finding him guilty of taking and driving a clamped Porsche Panamera car at Newent on January 27, 2021.
He had pleaded not guilty to stealing the blue 2016 Porsche, registration RZ66OZB and of 'unknown value,' which was said to be the property of the High Court of Justice at the time.
Mr Satchwell-Smith had been sentenced by the magistrates to a one year community order which included a requirement for him to do 100 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £700 prosecution costs and a £95 victim services surcharge.
But the appeal judge, Recorder Mathew Turner, told Mr Satchwell-Smith that the conviction was now quashed together with all the penalties.
Prosecutor Lewis Perry had told the court he was not in a position to resist the appeal because a prosecution witness was unwilling to attend to give evidence.
The witness, he said, had mental health difficulties and was reluctant to take any further part in the proceedings.
Mr Satchwell-Smith told the court that he had suffered 'considerable stress and anxiety' because of the prosecution and his conviction.
"There have been two newspaper reports saying 'entertainments businessman stole a Porsche,'" he said.
"It is the first thing that comes up on Google when you look me up and it has cost us work. It is absolutely ludicrous that it ever went ahead, yet it did.
"It was impossible for this car to be driven sixty metres with a clamp on it yet four people in court (the magistrates) believed it was. How is that even remotely possible?"
The appeal judge told him "We obviously were not there, and we cannot go behind the decision that the magistrates took. However, it has now come to this court and the prosecution are not proceeding with the case.
"You have set out your position very clearly. I understand the frustrations you have had, and you have had to come to this court to get the resolution that you felt was appropriate in this case.
"The fact is that you are now not convicted of this offence. I am afraid this court has no power to deal with what has happened in any way.
"If you want to seek an injunction of some further redress in the relation to the press coverage that is something you would need to deal with separately."
Mr Satchwell-Smith said "What responsibility is there on the four people who sat there (at the magistrates court) and decided that something happened which was impossible, absolutely impossible.
"What responsibility do those people have, because they have made my life hell?"
The judge repeated: "I am afraid we cannot go behind the decision of the lower court. It was a court which was entitled to come to the conclusion they did on the facts as they saw them. I appreciate that you feel deeply aggrieved that they came to the decision that they did. It is not something we have any input into.
"You have now been acquitted of the offence and that brings an end to this court's involvement.
"I am sorry I cannot offer you what you seek in this case. I can offer you understanding but I am afraid that is as far as it can go."
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