Prostitute was kindred spirit to accused taxman

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The Independent Online
Michael Allcock, the tax inspector accused of taking bribes from foreign businessmen, was close to tears as he told an Old Bailey jury yesterday how he turned to a prostitute as he struggled to cope with his wife's cancer.

Mr Allcock halted several times while giving his account of his mother's death from cancer in 1980, and his anguish when his wife was diagnosed as having the same disease eight years later.

He told how he and his wife, Sally, had nursed his mother for the last six weeks of her life and how this experience had affected them deeply.

When his wife's condition was identified, he said: "We knew too much, we'd been there, constantly, 24 hours a day and we had experienced her disintegration and death."

Mr Allcock went on to explain that his wife was in intense pain for two years and his seven-year-old son had nightmares, fearing his mother was about to die. He said that his way of dealing with the crisis was to spend freely without considering the consequences.

"I carried on spending, I didn't care what I spent, I thought I'd either extend or repay loans at the bank. That was the mood I was in," he said.

The prosecution has alleged that during this time Mr Allcock received bribes totalling pounds 150,000 from businessmen who owed substantial sums to the Inland Revenue.

His barrister, Anthony Arlidge, QC, put the accusation to him. "The suggestion in this case is that you have received monies from taxpayers you have had contact with and that in some way you paid it into your account," said Mr Arlidge.

Mr Allcock's reply was emphatic. "I totally and utterly reject that," he said. He went on to explain that some of his spending was funded by his wife's aunt and uncle.

The couple, Fred and Phyllis Curle from Danbury in Essex, had become generous benefactors to the Allcock family during the 1980s. The court heard how substantial sums of cash were periodically passed to Mrs Allcock who kept the money at their home in Colchester.

Mr Allcock explained: "We had some very dark times, depression, severe mood swings and a lot of the time she [his wife] was angry at what appeared to be my extravagance and lavish spending." However, Mrs Allcock helped to clear some of his loans with cash given to her by her relatives and other sums from the same source were spent on cars and home improvements.

Later, he told the court of his close friendship with his co-accused, Hishan Alwan, an oil industry consultant, and of how he became a shoulder to cry on during this troubled period. It was Mr Alwan who introduced the civil servant to Michelle Corrigan, a former model who had become an escort girl.

"He counselled me for a while, he was the only one who knew how I felt. When I first told him I broke down," said Mr Allcock. Soon after this, the businessman arranged the first meeting at the Carlton Court Hotel in West London between Mr Allcock and Ms Corrigan. Mr Alwan paid Ms Corrigan in cash before leaving the couple together and Mr Allcock told the court that he reimbursed his friend with pounds 250 the next day.

Mr Allcock said that his relationship with Ms Corrigan changed after five or six months and that he stopped paying for her services and gave her irregular gifts of clothes and money thereafter. He said he liked Ms Corrigan because she was "sympathetic" and on their first encounter had "talked about my situation".

"We became kindred spirits in a way, she was a fun person to be with," Mr Allcock told the court. "I found that behind the bravado there was a sensitive girl with an appalling background, and that she was as emotionally damaged as I was at that time.

"For emotional reasons, we both meant a lot to each other. I'll always be grateful for the emotional strength she gave me," he said.

The court heard how Mr Allcock loaned her pounds 3,000 to buy a new car but the loan was never repaid. He also gave her a watch costing pounds 600. Mr Allcock explained that he wanted her to get a job and improve her life.

Earlier, the court had been told how the tax inspector had investigated the affairs of a London stockbroker, Jonathan Bekhor. Mr Bekhor had given the Revenue a list of his clients, many of whom had been dealing in large quantities of shares through offshore companies.