BUSINESSMAN Richard Carr has spoken of his relief after a raft of fraud and theft charges alleged against him were dropped.

Mr Carr said he is hoping to "move forward" with his life following a decision taken at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday morning to discontinue a planned trial.

But the 56-year-old also said the proceedings against him have resulted in some "dark days", which started when Dorset Police officers raided his house with a dog unit to try and find cash inside the property three years ago.

Mr Carr was charged with 41 offences relating to allegations of fraud and theft in 2014.

His associates James Beedham and Adrian Price, brother-in-law Dene Burgess and sister Susan Burgess were also accused, and all faced a trial at Winchester Crown Court in October.

Prosecutors decided not to proceed with the trial, although reporting restrictions prohibited the decision from being revealed in the media.

A second trial was then due to take place at the court early next year, which related to all of the defendants except Mr Price.

That trial has now also collapsed.

All five have now been found formally not guilty of the initial 75 charges levelled at them.

Speaking to the Daily Echo after the hearing, Mr Carr said he hadn't 'rushed off to a bar for a glass of Champagne' but instead felt "bewilderment" at the charges.

"People who you really thought were lifelong friends turned their backs [on me]," he said.

"I'm busy and I have kept myself busy and that has probably kept me sane."

But he admitted that he had suffered "terrible thoughts", adding that he needed the support of family to give him "purpose".

At a special hearing before Judge Jonathan Fuller in Bournemouth, prosecutors representing the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed that the trial could not go ahead.

And a barrister acting on behalf of Mr Carr spoke in open court about the "deplorable" actions of an officer with Dorset Police who was involved in the case.

Miranda Moore QC told the court that the officer, who has not yet been publicly named, "turned up at a licensing hearing and made allegations so the authorities did not give a license to a business owned by Mr Carr.”

She added that the impact of Mr Carr's businesses has been "immense".

It is expected that the cost to the public purse will reach many thousands of pounds, while Mr Carr "expended hundreds of thousands" himself, Ms Moore said.

It was alleged that Mr Carr and others had committed a host of offences, including mortgage fraud, theft of corporate funds, concealment of bankruptcy assets and breaches of a Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking involving the operation of nightclubs and other businesses.

A spokesperson from Dorset Police said: "No evidence was offered in both trials as disclosure issues were raised and the prosecution therefore considered it appropriate to discontinue with the cases."

Speaking about allegations made against the officer, the spokesperson said: "We are now looking at our procedures to identify what has happened and why it has happened.

"It would have been inappropriate for the force to start this process before court proceedings concluded and it is important to let this analysis run its course."

The Department for BIS was unavailable for comment.

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