back to article Man facing $17.5m HPE fraud case has contempt sentence cut by Court of Appeal

Peter Sage, the "serial entrepreneur" accused by HPE of defrauding it out of $17.5m worth of servers, has been freed from prison by the UK's Court of Appeal. Sage's jail term for contempt of court was cut from 18 to 12 months by Lord Justices Kitchin, Richards and Henderson at a hearing on May 11, with the court reserving its …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Automatic halving of sentence

    Section 258(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 states that anyone committed to prison for contempt of court must be automatically released after serving half of his sentence.

    So if you're automatically released after serving half your sentence, why not just halve the sentence in the first place?

    Confused.....

    (Clearly, IANAL!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Automatic halving of sentence

      Because it looks good on paper if you give them an 18 month sentence...just ignore the fact it's only a 9 month one.

      1. 2460 Something
        Facepalm

        Re: Automatic halving of sentence

        The joys of a stupid system. Remember for other sentences you can get 50% reductions for 'Good Behaviour' as well. Pointless to hand out sentences that don't, in reality, last as long as they say they will.

        1. Mpeler
          Big Brother

          Re: Automatic halving of sentence - the joys of a stupid system

          How about reducing the sentence by half, then the remaining sentence by half, then that by half, then that by half, again and again, ad infinitum.

          He'll be in the slammer forever...

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: Automatic halving of sentence - the joys of a stupid system

            "He'll be in the slammer forever..."

            No, after 30 rounds of that a 50 year sentence would be down to a couple of seconds.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Zeno's paradox

              He was referring to Zeno's Paradox, but Zeno was overruled by Leibniz.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Zeno's paradox

                > He was referring to Zeno's Paradox, but Zeno was overruled by Leibniz.

                Overruled but not outrun.

            2. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Automatic halving of sentence - the joys of a stupid system

              ""He'll be in the slammer forever..."

              No, after 30 rounds of that a 50 year sentence would be down to a couple of seconds."

              Yes - his sentence would never be zero...

            3. Mpeler

              Re: Automatic halving of sentence - the joys of a stupid system

              Don't be an asymptote...

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Automatic halving of sentence

      IANAL as well, but that Section 258(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 states that "Where a person to whom this section applies is also serving one or more sentences of imprisonment, nothing in this section requires the Secretary of State to release him until he is also required to release him in respect of that sentence or each of those sentences."

      If I understood the legalese correctly: prison sentence for just contempt of court is always halved unless you also have other sentences - then it's the full monty.

      Such a pity that Sage didn't get a sentence regarding the HPE fraud... (alleged fraud I'd like to add)

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Automatic halving of sentence

        "serial entrepreneur"

        That's what we call a "thieving scumbag" nowadays, is it?

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Automatic halving of sentence

      It doesn't say if he was released outright or released on licence.

      1. Mpeler
        Pint

        Re: Automatic halving of sentence

        "It doesn't say if he was released outright or released on licence."

        Off Licence?

    4. DaLo

      Re: Automatic halving of sentence

      It's because there is no facility to extend a sentence unless another crime has been committed or new evidence received and it is returned to court.

      Therefore you can't hand down a 9 month sentence but if they a very badly behaving prisoner extend it to 18 months. SO the court first doubles it to 18 months and then you can halve it for good behaviour or other circumstances. There are a few sentences which automatically qualify for a half life and a few that qualify for full term.

      However it is in the prison service's (government's) interest to have well behaving prisoners who are let out of their very expensive prison cells and back into the wider world with as little hassle as possible. The prison system is much cheaper to run that way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Automatic halving of sentence

        "It's because there is no facility to extend a sentence unless another crime has been committed or new evidence received and it is returned to court."

        Not entirely true.

        For example, if you're foreign then at the end of your sentence you are not released while the Home Office decides whether they want to deport you. That can take them months.

        Other examples anyone?

      2. mr.K

        Re: Automatic halving of sentence

        "It's because there is no facility to extend a sentence unless another crime has been committed or new evidence received and it is returned to court."

        Fair enough, but we are talking about changing the system here so why not change that bit as well. This is a democratic problem and seems to be fairly common in different countries. How we as a society hand out punishment is important for people and thus it is a part of who we vote for and why. To have any hope of an honest democratic public debate we should work to remove anything that muddies the water. And I do think that if all sentences where the minimum you had to serve (at least within ordinary circumstances excluding pardons, reforms etc) and they could all be extended to the double of that minimum, it would be a lot easier for people to understand. The end result is the same, just the wording that is different. "Three years in prison with a maximum of six years." instead of "Six years in prison with a minimum of three years." (That kind of wording might be in a different country, but the principle stands).

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Main bout still to come. Alleged dodgy geezer (who may be perfectly innocent) Vs HPE

    Hmmmm.

    Better get plenty of popcorn ready for this one.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

    Man buys large quantity of <item>, negotiating good deal for certainty/volume.

    Man sells <item> to lots of other people, making a profit on each one.

    Primary supplier gets the benefit of early/certain payment

    Middle man takes the risk of being left with stock, and the pain of dealing with lots of different customers.

    Middle man takes some profit if they do it right, gets stuck with debt + with a big pile of <item> otherwise

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

      Yes, I too was wondering where (deceit aside) was HPE loss in this case.

      1. Tridac

        Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

        Once again, someone else was better at getting the deal done than HP, just like the Autonomy case. Not too smart these days at HP, it seems. Greedy for the business blinds oversight, then butt hurt when someone else takes all the profit. You couldn't make it up...

      2. CheesyTheClown

        Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

        Sounds to me that the guy was a hell of a sales person if he was selling servers at retail pricing. HP didn't have to cold call all the customers and probably saved millions on staff and red tape. Unless HPE actually lost money on the sales, it sounds like they screwed themselves.

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

          I think I get it - HP was keen to sell directly to customers at a high margin, but this fellow sold them instead cheaper (but otherwise identical) stuff.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

      According this previous El Reg article, HP are claiming that Peter Sage fraudulently obtained discounts from HP and then sold the kit on to entities who weren't entitled to the discount.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

        "According this previous El Reg article, "

        Ok, that makes more sense. But that is presumably a simple case of contract law (simple case being an oxymoron).

        And concealing an item that is being searched for is presumably why it's being searched for. If it wasn't being concealed there would be no need to search. That's where I've been going wrong with hide-and-seek all these years?!

        Seems a bit harsh to call that contempt of court, particularly if the court managed to stuff up the warrant...

    3. sal II

      Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

      No it goes like this:

      - Man sings a contract with HPE to buy and resell large volumes of goods at discounted prices for emerging markets. With explicit clauses forbidding him from reselling the goods in a different region.

      - Man breaches the contract and resells in a different region

      - HPE sues for breach of contract.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

        > Man sings a contract with HPE

        To their tune, obviously.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: This used to be how commerce worked isn't it?

        @sal II - Given HPE aren't actually talking about a breach of contract, I suggest there was no resale restriction clause in the agreement...

        Basically, HPE fell for the sales pitch, didn't do any due diligence and are now crying about how unfair it all is.

        Unfortunately, HPE have deep pockets and so can pay lawyers to use the legal system to conduct a witch hunt based on a load of unsubstantiated accusations. Which given the length of time that has elapsed, I suggest HPE have no intention whatsoever to commence legal proceedings as they know they don't have a leg to stand on..

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Alert

    Thanks to a "procedural defect" in the wording of the search order

    Hmmmm

    generally UK courts (or judges are pretty relaxed about faults in the prosecution evidence. Certainly illegally obtained evidence is quite often used in prosecutions with nary a mention.

    Which makes me wonder who knows who in this particular case ?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Thanks to a "procedural defect" in the wording of the search order

      $17.5m can get you a lot of friends

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    confused

    being charged for being a reseller?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: confused

      being charged for being a reseller? civil case for breach of contract (sold in different location to that agreed in contract) with time in slammer for contempt of court

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: confused

      There are no charges its just HP clearly doesnt like it when resellers turn a profit.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: confused

        generally UK courts (or judges are pretty relaxed about faults in the prosecution evidence. Certainly illegally obtained evidence is quite often used in prosecutions with nary a mention.

        That's because they aren't "faults" with evidence in the UK. Evidence is evidence. If anybody has material relevant to the matter then it may be produced in court either either by the defense or prosecution with no regard to the legality of how it happened to arrive before the courts.

        Using it in court is however an admission of guilt of any crime committed obtaining the information and you might be sued seperately for those offenses.

      2. Mpeler
        Mushroom

        Re: confused

        "HP clearly doesnt like it when resellers turn a profit."

        Yep.

        Not like it was in the old days with Neely...

        There. I'll bet nit Whitman (and the rest of the decrepit crew) have no idea of who Neely were (actually, was)...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is The Popcorn Ready?

    I don't know if the cause of justice is served, but I look forward to more entertaining El Reg articles.

  7. Gareth Douglas

    If he such a tyrant, how come he is only in clink for Contempt of court? Where are the fraud charges?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    Contempt of court notwithstanding...this dude is effectively being taken through court because he bought stuff at a discount then resold it for a profit in a region that HP didn't know they were going to be sold in?

    Am I missing something?

    Sounds to me like he was conducting what is suspiciously approximate to a process known as business and HP are currently experiencing a sharp uncomfortable sensation some might recognise as butthurt.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This will certainly have the desired effect

    Aren't they creating a possibility that people will read this as "don't do business with HP if you don't want to run the risk, however slight, of having your personal goods taken away and being sent to prison at the behest of lawyers"? It isn't as if other companies don't make servers.

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