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

Now-freed 'serial entrepreneur' has yet to face a full trial

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 detailed judgement until today.

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. Accordingly, Sage, having been jailed in January, is now a free man.

Lord Justice Henderson, giving the leading judgement, quashed one of the nine counts of contempt that Sage had previously been found guilty of. As Sage had already served five months in prison by that point, he would have been freed in June.

The quashed count was an accusation that Sage had concealed a £23,000 diamond and sapphire engagement ring from HPE's solicitors during a court-ordered house search in December 2015. Thanks to a "procedural defect" in the wording of the search order, the judge ruled that Sage should not have been found guilty on that count.

Sage is accused by Hewlett Packard Enterprise of duping the firm out of 42,000 servers over four years, through what HPE says was a fraudulent Dubai-based enterprise called Space Energy. Sage is said to have used the company to secure so-called "Big Deal" discounts from HPE and then allegedly resold the servers at full price in the UK. No trial on these issues has yet taken place.

HPE's law firm, noted City attack dogs Mishcon de Reya, secured a High Court order authorising them to raid the Leicester home Sage shared with his fiancée, Thea Thorpe. This took place in December 2015 and included a provision that any jewellery worth more than £1,000 found in Sage's home was to be handed over to the lawyers.

The full case, before the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, continues. ®

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