A MAN jailed for a fraud which could have endangered air passengers has been given six months to pay back £140,000 – or serve a further 30 months in prison.
Eric Lyon, 48, was jailed last year for supplying substandard halon gas for airplane fire extinguishers.
At the 2012 criminal hearing, the court heard how the fraud had the potential to put lives at risk world-wide.
Yesterday a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) order was made at Mold Crown Court after 24 hours of negotiations between the prosecution and defence.
Judge Philip Hughes made the order under which Lyon, of Northop Country Park, near Mold, was found to have criminally benefited from the fraud to the tune of £163,165.
The amount available to be repaid was said to be £140,025 and a confiscation order was made for that amount.
Judge Hughes gave him six months to pay or to serve an additional two-and-a-half years imprisonment in default.
It was agreed that five of the eight complainant companies should be compensated as the defendant had “put things right” as far as three others were concerned.
Of the compensation, 11 per cent will go to Mel Aviation Ltd in Suffolk; one per cent to Pacific Scientific Ltd in Berkshire, 16 per cent to CICLI in France, 11 per cent to L’Hotellier in France and 61 per cent to Fire Fighting Enterprises in Hertforshire.
At the time of sentencing last year, the fraud was said to be in the region of £400,000, but a great deal had been done by the defendant to put things right in the meantime.
The main assets were jointly owned by his wife. The home was subject to a substantial mortgage as was his business premises.
Defending barrister Phillip Tully said that he would ask for six months to pay initially, although it may be that they would have to return to court at a later date to ask for an extension of time to pay.
“He needs to go away and try and sort out how he is going to pay this money,” he said.
“If it is the case that he will try to re-mortgage property or release equity in property, that is going to take a considerable time.”
The initial fraud arose from the supply of halon gas for airplane fire extinguishers which was not up to the required standard.
Last year Lyon admitted 25 fraud offences and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Lyon, who has since been released, is still running the company and an earlier hearing was told that as a specialist in halon gas, he was still dealing with many of the companies, some of them abroad, who had been complainants in the original fraud case.
He had compensated complainants by replacing the gas originally supplied.
At last year’s criminal hearing, the court heard that a huge investigation was carried out after it was found halon gas supplied by Lyon was not up to standard and he had altered certificates showing how pure it was.
More than 15,000 fire extinguishers had to be taken out of airplanes across the globe.
A judge said Lyon had almost a monopoly in the market because of his expertise – and he abused his position, calling the fraud a systematic, sophisticated fraud for substantial gain – achieved with total disregard for the potential of a risk to public safety.