Court orders men to pay compensation

PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 January 2016


Andrew Bowden and Paul Randle have been ordered to repay a total of £43,400 at a compensation hearing at Exeter Crown Court.

Bowden was the founder of Exe Leisure, at Topsham Quay, while Randle acted as head salesman and director until the company went bust in 2006 with massive debts.

They both received suspended sentences for fraudulent trading just over a year ago and returned to Exeter Crown Court for a compensation hearing.

Bowden, 41, of Victoria Road, Topsham, who now works in Dubai, was ordered to pay £5,000 straight away and another £36,000 at £1,000 a month.

Randle, 49, of Exeter Road, Topsham, was ordered to pay £2,400 over four years by Judge Phillip Wassall.

Both men were sentenced to two years, suspended for two years in December 2014 by the same judge, after Bowden admitted the offence and Randle was convicted after a trial.

The money will be split between customers whose boats were sold but did not receive payment, clients who paid deposits for engines which never materialised, and finance houses which provided cash for fraudulent hire purchase agreements.

Investor Ian White, from Exmouth, who ploughed £210,000 into the doomed venture where his daughter Natalie worked, will receive nothing, but was told by the judge he can pursue a civil claim against the two men.

Bowden did not attend the hearing and Judge Wassall ruled he must return to Britain if he wants to contest the compensation order.

Miss Emily Pitts, prosecuting, said investigations showed Randle has been working as a self-employed electrician since the collapse of the firm. He had an annual turnover, ranging from £93,000 to £23,000, and at one point had substantial equity in his home.

She said Bowden is reckoned to have earned £79,000 tax free last year while working in Dubai.

Miss Mary McCarthy, for Randle, said he was forced to remortgage his house to pay a £37,000 legal aid contribution and now had no equity in his house.

She said his earnings had fallen since a bumper year in 2013 and his finances had not recovered from going into personal bankruptcy in the wake of the Exe Leisure crash in 2007. He was now living on just £200 a week.

Mr James Hillman, for Bowden, said his disposable income was just £1,500 a month and both his bank accounts were in Dubai.

The two men ran the company, which was based on Topsham Quay, but also had a workshop at Odhams Wharf on the River Clyst and storage at Highfield Farm on the edge of Topsham.

The business was started by Bowden, who recruited electrician Randle to the expanding business in the early 2000s after meeting him at Topsham Fire Station, where they were both retained firefighters.

The business expanded rapidly in the early 2000s and at one time was one of the biggest suppliers of engines in the country. It ran into serious financial trouble in 2005 and went into administration in July 2006.

In its prime, the business had a fleet of imported American powerboats parked on Topsham Quay, a string of major dealerships and ran powerboat training courses on the River Exe.

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