Judge tells jury to disregard Ferriday loss: Summing-up begins in Eagle Trust theft case

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JOHN FERRIDAY, the former Eagle Trust boss accused of a multi-million- pound theft, must be judged not on whether his actions made him a profit but on whether he was stealing, the trial judge said yesterday.

Counsel for Mr Ferriday has said that his efforts to ensure the success of a 1987 takeover deal cost him millions of pounds.

Judge Malcolm Ward was starting his summing-up at the end of a trial which has lasted nearly 10 months.

Mr Ferriday, 48, is on trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court accused of five thefts involving more than pounds 12m and 1.7 million shares in Howden Group.

Two thefts, totalling pounds 11.5m, arose from the share issue that accompanied Eagle Trust's takeover of Samuelson, the film and lighting equipment company. The deal was announced just one week before the October 1987 stock market crash.

Mr Ferriday is alleged to have diverted money from Eagle, through Jersey, to meet sub-underwriting commitments he made to prevent the flop of the share issue. The crash pushed Eagle's share price below the rights issue price, leaving sub-underwriters facing hefty losses.

The judge warned that the jury should not hold against Mr Ferriday his decision not to give evidence in the trial. He will continue his summing-up today.