Stoke & Staffordshire

Fraud cleric Mehboob Akhtar has jail sentence reduced

Mehboob Akhtar Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption Mehboob Akhtar, 61, was based at the Darbar Unique Centre, Stoke-on-Trent

A spiritual leader who masterminded a £2.2m fraud has had his jail term cut.

Mehboob Akhtar, 61, who was based at the Darbar Unique Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for 14 years at Birmingham Crown Court in April 2016.

The Muslim cleric, who used donations to the centre to buy property, had his sentence reduced to 11 years after a hearing at the Court of Appeal.

However, a panel of judges rejected Akhtar's bid to have his conviction overturned.

Lord Justice Treacy rejected arguments put forward by Akhtar's lawyers that his trial was unfair because the judge misdirected the jury.

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Sitting with Mrs Justice Andrews and Judge Eleri Rees QC, he said: "We are not persuaded that there was any omission which was unfair, or that the judge failed to properly put Mr Akhtar's defence before the jury."

Birmingham Crown Court was told how he masterminded a conspiracy between 2003 and 2014.

Akhtar, of Farman Close, was convicted of charges including conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to obtain money by deception and conspiracy to defraud.

His former book-keeper, Carla Parrish, was also unsuccessful in her attempt to quash her conviction for conspiracy to commit fraud at Tuesday's hearing.

But financial advisor Graham Lockstone had his three-and-a-half year sentence reduced to two years and nine months.

Parrish, 50, of Church Road, was found guilty of a count of conspiracy to commit fraud after she was involved in one transaction in 2010.

Lockstone, 50, of Wrington Lane, Conglesbury, Bristol, was convicted of the same count as Parrish and another conspiracy to commit fraud relating to a transaction in 2012.

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