Eagle Trust man jailed for six years on theft charges

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JOHN FERRIDAY, the former chief executive of Eagle Trust, the collapsed mini-conglomerate, was yesterday jailed for six years.

Ferriday, 48, had been found guilty on five charges of theft by a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court at the end of a 10-month trial - one of the longest on record. He had denied stealing pounds 12.25m and 1.7 million shares belonging to the company.

The court had been told Ferriday, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, siphoned off money from the firm to cover losses suffered during the stock market crash in 1987. Much of the money was stolen to buy Eagle Trust's own shares, issued to acquire Samuelson, the film and lighting equipment company.

John Rogers QC, for the prosecution, said the firm was rendered insolvent when, after the suspension of Stock Exchange dealings, the Department of Trade and Industry called in the Serious Fraud Squad.

Passing sentence, Judge Malcolm Ward told Ferriday: 'I know that, after the events of Black Monday, you took a massive and dishonest gamble and it failed.'

He said he had no doubt that Ferriday enjoyed the excitement of the game he was involved in, but at the end he had tried to brazen things out. 'You are a man of great ambition who is prepared to work very hard, but you are also unscrupulous,' the judge said.