Fraud case against businessmen thrown out

PUBLISHED: 15:07 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:07 06 March 2020

Ipswich Crown Court   Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

A sales manager and a salesman for a Colchester engineering company accused of abusing their positions by trying to poach customers for a rival business they were setting up have been cleared after a judge threw out the case against them.

Ian Pratt and Gareth Pye were employed by Paragon Stainless Products which made stainless steel products including equipment for McDonalds site refurbishments, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

They worked for Paragon for 18 months before handing in their notice in January 2017 and were "trusted, senior members of staff" with access to confidential information, said Matthew Kirk, prosecuting.

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He said the case involved the alleged actions of the defendants in paving the way for a new business called ISG in the weeks before they left Paragon.

Pratt, 62, of Warren Lane, Martlesham Heath, and Pye, 49, of Berechurch Road, Colchester denied fraud.

They were cleared after the trial judge, Martyn Levett directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts at the close of the prosecution case on the basis there was no case for the defendants to answer.

Mr Kirk said that prior to the alleged fraud there had been conflict between the company's two directors and the business had been experiencing a period of uncertainty.

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