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Personal Injury CMC boss receives short custodial sentence

The Director of Direct Assist, one of the country’s leading claims management companies, pleaded guilty to fraudulent removal of approximately £50,000 following the insolvency of the company, and failing to cooperate with the Liquidator, at Bolton Crown Court on Wednesday 21st November 2018.

The prosecution brought by the Insolvency Service, originally charged Mr Bullough with a number of offences including failure to prepare and submit company records. At trial the Defendant pleaded guilty to two offences which took the matter into a lower sentencing category which was considered by the Judge, HH Judge Stead.

Although the Judge imposed a short custodial sentence of 21 months for the offences, he declined to suspend the operation of the sentence. 

Mr Bullough was represented by Jeremy Barnett, instructed by Ian Coupland of Lewis Nedas Law.

For more details, see the Bury Advertiser report 15th November below

A BUSINESSMAN who fraudulently took more than £50,000 from his controversial accident claims handling company as it was about to be wound up, has been jailed for 21 months.

Darren Bullough, who is said to have previously enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, living in a £2 million Cheshire mansion and driving a Lamborghini was told by Judge Timothy Stead that his behaviour was the latest incident in a pattern of dishonesty stretching back several years.

Bullough, aged 46, whose address is now listed as a more modest property in Central Drive, Bury, had denied committing fraud and failing to co-operate with the liquidator of his firm, Direct Assist Ltd, which had registered offices in Bolton and Bury, and was due to stand trial at Bolton Crown Court on Monday.

But, as his trial was due to start, he changed his plea to guilty, admitting fraudulently taking £50,697.94 from Direct Assist Ltd, which he spent on credit cards and distributed to his wife and others. He also admitted failing to provide company books and records to the liquidator.

Dressed in a grey suit and without a tie, Bullough stood looking emotionless in the dock as Judge Stead told him he could not agree to defending barrister, Jeremy Barnett’s request for a suspended prison sentence.

The court heard that Bullough has a history of dishonesty, with offences dating back to 1997, when he was jailed for 12 months for stealing £28,000 from a previous employer by false accounting.

Then, in 2004, he was convicted of obtaining property by deception through not paying bills.

Judge Stead told Bullough that he had a poor attitude to other people’s property and he has “no great faith” that he will learn a lesson from his convictions and change his behaviour.

In 2007 he set up Direct Assist Ltd, a personal injuries claims management company, with offices in Chorley New Road, Bolton.

Judge Stead said he would not comment on the lavish lifestyle Bullough was said to have enjoyed due to income from the firm.

“You must spend your money as you see fit, so long as it is yours to spend,” the judge told him.

But the company, got into difficulties in 2012 to 2013 when Corporation Tax went unpaid and, after June 2013, no VAT was paid.

“Clearly the company was in financial difficulties,” said Judge Stead.

The financial position was so bad that, on September 24, 2014, when the unpaid tax bill stood at £658,000, HMRC petitioned the court to wind up the company.

“From that point on the money you were laying your hands on was not yours to do with as you pleased,” said Judge Stead.

“Money was removed and dispersed which should have gone to HMRC.”

The day after the winding up petition Bullough, who was the company's sole director, started removing money from the firm.

Around £28,000 went to family members, £3,600 worth of cash was removed from the company’s bank account and £18,500 was spent on Direct Assist’s credit card.

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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