UPDATE: Fakenham man convicted of converting criminal property, but cleared of theft

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A man accused of profiting from fraud committed by his wife against the firm they worked for has been found guilty of converting criminal property.

But Jamie Baxter, 27, of Wensum Way, Fakenham, was cleared of a second charge of theft.

A jury of six women and five men delivered their verdicts shortly before lunchtime today, after more than five hours of deliberations.

Baxter, who was released on bail, will return to court for sentencing next month..

The court had heard he and his wife Paula Baxter, 42, were both employed by Wensum Pools, based at South Raynham, when concerns about their conduct were first raised in February last year.

Paula Baxter admitted charges of theft and fraud at an earlier hearing.

But Recorder Justin Rouse QC told the jury that only showed that the sums of money involved in the case and did not prove anything in relation to her husband.

However, during his closing speech yesterday, prosecuting barrister David Wilson argued the jury were entitled to conclude that Jamie Baxter had been aware of his wife’s behaviour.

He pointed out several “lifestyle purchases” that were made over a six week period during September, October and November 2015, including a trip to a Real Madrid football match, a car, two televisions and a fridge freezer.

And he said: “He (Jamie Baxter) tolerated it because, in short, he benefited from it.”

But Hilary O’Keefe, defending, said her client had not been in charge of the couple’s finances and was not aware of rent arrears or other financial concerns they had been facing.

She said he had believed his wife had saved money, including overtime payments from the company, in order to pay for the Madrid trip.

She said: “If anything, Mr Baxter has been naive. That doesn’t make him a criminal.”

The case first came to light when the company’s managing director, Tristan Dacre, saw a picture on Jamie Baxter’s phone which showed swimming pool lining of a type the firm used in its business on floors in his home.

The court heard he had shown the picture to Mr Dacre while they had been returning home from watching a Chelsea home match on February 7, 2016.

Mr Wilson said there was no dispute the material had been used to line floors in the Baxters’ home, but insisted Baxter had not been given permission to take it.

But Miss O’Keefe said the material had been found when staff and volunteers, including Baxter, had been clearing a building at the company’s premises.

She argued there were inconsistencies in the accounts given by prosecution witnesses and claimed it was “highly logical” that Baxter would have been told to take some of the material if it was of use to him.