Former Norton CEO Stuart Garner sentenced
Former Norton CEO Stuart Garner has been convicted. Garner pleaded guilty to three counts of breaching pension regulations after illegally investing around £11,000,000 of people’s pensions in Norton Motorcycles.
Judge Nirmal Shant QC handed down an eight-month prison sentence but suspended it for two years. The suspended sentence means he won’t go to jail unless Garner commits another offense within two years.
In passing sentence, Shant told Garner:
“It’s not just financial harm.”
“I have read statement after statement about the trauma you have caused to the lives of ordinary people who thought they were investing in their future.”
“Many of them spoke of broken relationships, deep health issues and having to deal with the misery of having to work much longer than expected because of the financial damage you caused.
In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Shant ordered Garner to pay £20,716.69 in costs. However, the amount may remain unpaid as Garner declared bankruptcy in May 2021.
Unfortunately, the sentencing is likely to do little good for those affected by Garner’s crimes. In June 2020, the Pensions Ombudsman ordered Garner to repay millions books due to pensioners.
According to BBC News, 227 investors were taken into Garner’s retirement plan. As of January 2020, those affected still owed £10,000,000.
One of those people was Robert Dewar. Mr. Dewar transferred £120,000 (~$158,000) to Garner’s pension scheme and ultimately lost it all. While the money was in Garner’s scheme, Mr. Dewar was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and later died without getting his money back.
His daughter, Sally Holmes, told the BBC she tried for three years before her father’s death to release her father’s pension money, but to no avail.
“I do not know how [Garner] can live with himself.
“Because it’s not just us. How could he do this to so many vulnerable people, who trusted him, had faith in him, believed in him?
To make ends meet, Mr Dewar’s wife was forced to return to her job as a freelance commercial estate agent while trying to care for her husband.
“His condition was deteriorating to the point that in the end he could only move his arms or even his hands. He needed help eating, drinking, bathing, dressing.
After Mr. Dewar’s death, his pension money has still not been returned. The BBC quotes Ms Dewar as saying:
“I even sent him [Stuart Garner] an email saying ‘He’s dead now, it’s too late for us, that’s how he died. All we wanted was to be able to take care of him. He never answered.
William Hays, representing the pension regulator who sued Garner, gave more information about some of Garner’s victims. He said the loss of pension funds had caused considerable hardship for those who were unable to withdraw them.
He said some people had been unable to pay their mortgages and had been forced to continue working longer than expected. Others had suffered from psychological difficulties, marital difficulties, stress, sleep disturbances, loss of confidence and self-doubt.
Make a victim?
To some, the comments from Garner’s attorney, Peter Caldwell, may appear to be trying to victimize Garner. According to the BBCCaldwell said Garner had “fallen out of favor and suffered severe mental health crises because of what happened.”
“He took medicine.”
“He is, in his own words, ‘trying to cope’. There are acute episodes where he needs help.
Interestingly, Caldwell claims that Garner did not know he was doing wrong, and supposedly his request was granted by the prosecution.
“It was not a post where he knew about the restriction and nevertheless went to do what he did. He did not do it.
Caldwell also said that Garner felt remorse for his actions:
“Your Honor should understand that he sincerely conveys his remorse to you and others.
And Caldwell said Garner personally paid £30,000 to members of the pension scheme before declaring bankruptcy.
Although Garner pleaded guilty, he only received a suspended sentence. He will be free to go about his daily business without any repercussions on his freedom. So, do his victims get justice or are they re-victimized? Given Garner’s bankruptcy, it is unclear whether he will be required or able to repay his victims in full or even make partial payments.
Some, like Mr. Dewar, will never receive justice now that he is dead. Perhaps his family will receive compensation in the future, but that is of little value to the man who lived out his last years unable to access the money that could have made his last years better. comfortable for him and his family.