A financial industry compliance officer who altered emails to give a false impression of the value of his former marital home has been jailed for 30 weeks.
Anthony Cooke was jailed by Deemster Richard Parkes QC, at Douglas Courthouse.
The crime, that of having committed an act against public justice, occurred following divorce proceedings between the fifty-year-old and his wife.
At hearings heard by Deemster John Needham in July 2021, Cooke relied on figures which the court was led to believe were estimates provided by two island-based estate agents.
However, when Cooke’s wife contacted the estate agents and asked for copies of the emails for her own documents, they came back with different estimates than those presented to Deemster Needham and the court.
The figures had been altered to an extent of between £5,000 and £10,000.
Prosecutor Roger Kane said Cooke did this when he was trying to buy the house for his wife and by lowering the estimate put it in a price range he could afford.
In a written statement to police, Cooke, who lived on Aspden Drive in Peel, admitted to having changed the figures to be “more realistic” and said he believed the lower figures were accurate.
However, Mr Kane said the prosecution said they acted to ‘mislead the court’ and chose not to tell the court they had changed the numbers.
Defense attorney Jim Travers told the court that in his plea Cooke admitted to changing the number and said he ‘didn’t think rationally’ but did what he had to. done in an attempt to allow her children to continue living in what had previously been the family home. .
His advocacy base continued to say that the price of real estate would have been determined by market forces, so the estimates wouldn’t be accurate anyway.
Mr Travers added that his client recognized what he had done wrong and admitted it at the earliest opportunity. He said it was “distressing” for Cooke, who had no previous convictions, to lose his good character and, most likely, his job as head of financial sector compliance at Creechurch Capital.
The attorney said Cooke had been under great stress during her divorce, made worse by the pandemic and the difficulty it has caused accessing her children.
Mr Travers said his client had reached a “personal nadir” at the end of 2020.
He added: “If the plan was to ‘take one from him’, to speak colloquially, it backfired spectacularly.”
Mr Travers also noted that as Cooke failed in his plan, the impact of his crime was less severe and that even if he had succeeded it would have benefited him to the tune of around £5,000.
He added that his client had worked on probation and “realized that his career in financial services was potentially over”.
Cooke reportedly said on probation that it was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
Sentencing Cooke to 30 weeks in jail, Deemster Parkes said he accepted he was going through a “terrible time” when he changed house estimates and it may have impacted his decision-making.
However, he also noted that Cooke twice entered the estimates as evidence in court and relied on them. Deemster Needham said that due to his compliance work, which saw him deal with stressful situations, he was ‘a bit skeptical’ that his judgment was impaired in the four months that the offense has been committed.
Deemster Parkes said it was “tremendously sad” that Cooke ruined his previous good character but committed an “extremely serious” offense which “strikes at the heart of the administration of justice”.
He said Cooke had “fooled” lawyers and the courts and that a custodial sentence, despite Mr Travers’ plea for a suspended sentence, was “completely unavoidable”.