The former finance director of the Priory Federation of Academies was caught up in a “maelstrom” not of his own choosing, a jury was told today (Thursday).
Stephen Davies, 58, has denied he did anything wrong regarding payments made to the organisation’s former chief executive, Richard Gilliland, who is on trial alongside him at Lincoln Crown Court.
Giles Beddloe, defending Davies, told the jury his client was one step removed from the case against Mr Gilliland.
Addressing the courtroom in his closing speech Mr Beddloe said: “Mr Davies by any account is a less controversial, charismatic and colourful individual. He is an ordinary man.
“His first love was teaching and the welfare of his students. Sadly for him he got caught up in this maelstrom. This case is not of his choosing. He did not want to be placed in this position.”
Mr Beddloe asked the jury: “You may consider if Mr Gilliland was not on trial then Mr Davies would not be here.”
The prosecution claim that Mr Davies assisted Mr Gilliland in making three payments because he feared for his job was simply not credible, Mr Beddloe told them.
“What evidence has been put forward by the prosecution to say his job would have been put in jeopardy if those payments were not done?” Mr Beddloe asked. “There was no evidence because it is an absurd suggestion.”
Mr Beddloe told the jury there was also no personal benefit to Mr Davies. “He obviously did not gain from this, it is an indisputable proposition.”
During his evidence Davies insisted there were “sound business reasons” for the Federation paying for training courses for Mr Gilliland’s son, Kia Richardson, who was employed at the academy’s Laughton Manor equestrian centre, near Sleaford. He also said that overtime payments of more than £4,000 paid out to Mr Richardson were justified.
Mr Beddloe told the jury: “Kia Richardson is nothing to do with Mr Davies. He has no interest in Kia Richardson benefiting from this.”
Davies, 58, of Abingdon Avenue, Lincoln, denies three charges of fraud by abuse of position.
Richard Gilliland, 64, who now lives in Spain, denies seven charges of fraud by abuse of position on dates between October 2008 and November 2011.
The trial continues.