It’s just been announced that Stuart Garner, who was found guilty last month of illegally investing £11 million worth of his employees pensions into Norton Motorcycles, has been sentenced… well, if you can call it a sentencing. Just this morning (Thursday 31 March 2022), the 53-year-old appeared before Derby Crown Court and was handed three 12-month sentences, reduced to eight months, but then suspended for two years. So he’s probably not going to go to prison at all.
He’s also been forced to pay £20,716.69 in costs which, despite being declared bankrupt on 26 May 2021, I can’t see him genuinely having a problem paying.
You can read more about Garner-gate here, but in a nutshell, his criminal offence was investing more than 5% of the value of, what was essentially, his employees money, back into the business. And all of that, whilst taking deposits from customers for bikes that he probably knew weren’t ever going to get built.
White collar crime?
Sometimes certain white collar crimes are almost victimless. Garner’s weren’t. As well as leaving his employees without the pension that they’d been paying into for years, and relying on to retire, he left them with untold stress and worry. He sold countless V4SSs to customers for £44,000 that, according to Norton’s new owners, are barely road worthy. And he as good as ran Norton Motorcycles totally and utterly into the ground. I don’t think any of his crimes are forgivable, and I’m sure the victims feel the same way.
Yes, Stuart Garner has been found guilty and yes he’s been sentenced. But an eight month, suspended sentence? Come on, pull the other one. That’s not really a sentence is it? That’s a “Behave yourself for the next few months, and we’ll forget about this whole thing”.
I know he’ll have a criminal record, and he’s not allowed to be a company director any more, but that seems like a small price to pay for effectively stealing £11,000,000.
Who said crime doesn’t pay?