"It's terrible especially when you hadn't done anything"
A sub-postmaster from Derbyshire said his life was “torn apart” after he was wrongly jailed for stealing £200,000 from the Post Office.
Harjinder Butoy was running a branch of the Post Office when he was accused of stealing over £200,000.
Mr Butoy was convicted of the theft and jailed for three years and three months in 2008.
But he battled with the Post Office for 14 years and in April 2021, he had his conviction overturned along with 38 others.
Bosses at the Post Office admitted the loss of money was caused by a computer error.
Mr Butoy was among 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses prosecuted based on information from the Horizon IT system.
In December 2019, a High Court judge ruled that Horizon contained a “number of bugs, errors and defects”.
During an inquiry into Horizon, Mr Butoy said during that time, he “fell apart” as he found it impossible to get a job after spending 18 months of his sentence behind bars and being declared bankrupt.
The former sub-postmaster said: “My life got torn apart.
“As soon as they said guilty to some of the charges, and I was handcuffed and taken down, I didn’t know what was happening, I didn’t know where I was, or where my mind was.
“It’s terrible especially when you hadn’t done anything, and I thought how have I got here, and I thought about my family.
“I lost over six stone in weight, I was stressed every day.
“The day I was sentenced, we shut the business down straight away, and my wife and three children moved in with my parents, because we had no business left, it was gone and she would not have been able to run it on her own.
“I’ve got no confidence in myself anymore, and it’s the same for me and them, we’ve all been destroyed.”
Before and during the trial, Mr Butoy repeatedly reassured his family and was confident he would “be OK”.
He continued: “I kept telling my wife, don’t worry everything will be alright, hopefully, the jury will be on my side, and that’s the only thing I was going on as I couldn’t prove myself.
“Even on the day, I woke up, went down and thought, I’ll be OK, and then when the jury come out and started saying guilty to some of the charges, I fell apart.”
Mr Butoy was one of 39 former sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted and even jailed for theft, fraud and false accounting.
Describing the moment he was arrested, the former sub-postmaster said:
“Customers saw me being taken away, and I felt quite ashamed truthfully.
“They came in saying £208,000 was missing and I thought what was going on?”
“I got arrested straight away, and it all happened so quick, I was so confused, and they said we don’t know what’s happening, we’ve just been told by the Post Office to arrest you, take you into custody and wait for them to come.”
After the 2021 ruling, Post Office Chairman Tim Parker said:
“The Post Office is extremely sorry for the impact on the lives of these postmasters and their families that was caused by historical failures.
“Post Office stopped prosecutions soon after its separation from Royal Mail a decade ago and has throughout this appeals process supported the overturning of the vast majority of convictions.
“We are contacting other postmasters and Post Office workers with criminal convictions from past private Post Office prosecutions that may be affected, to assist them to appeal should they wish.
“Post Office continues to reform its operations and culture to ensure such events can never happen again.”