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eBay employee 'torpedos' fraud trial

Tired of waiting. Flew to Belfast.

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Updated This story was updated on Friday 26th October 2007 16:59 GMT to add comment from eBay public relations.

The trial of a UK man suspected of defrauding eBay users was scuttled after an employee for the online auction house abruptly left the island before offering key testimony.

According to the Herald Express, eBay employee Kevin Morgan arrived in Exeter on Sunday, but left on Wednesday morning before taking the stand because he was fed up with the wait.

"The trial has effectively been torpedoed by his leaving the country," prosecutor Martin Kenny said. "I would have thought eBay would have been keen to give evidence to allow the court to get to the bottom of this case."

Judge Philip Wassall told the jury he considered ordering a plane carrying Morgan from Exeter to Belfast to turn around while in mid air so the man, described only as an "eBay employee," could offer his testimony. The judge decided against that option after considering the inconvenience to other passengers.

The trial of 20-year-old Alisdair Noon of Torquay concerns an alleged conspiracy to defraud eBay buyers by failing to deliver low-cost items listed on the site. Two other men, Paul Kelly, 39, of Paignton, and Ricky Worden, 29, of Belfast, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud in the case and are scheduled to be sentenced in December.

The trial comes as some eBay users complain that fraud on the auction site has reached unacceptable levels. An eBay spokeswoman says the company works hard to keep its site free of a "small number of people who may choose to misuse it." So far this year, work by eBay fraud busters has led to 210 arrests and guilty verdicts in 69 separate court cases.

"These results are only possible with the determined efforts of our Fraud Investigations Team - a dedicated team who fly all over the world to support the police and the courts," she wrote in an email. "Kevin Morgan is one of our finest investigators and any suggestion he was less than 100% professional and committed in this specific case is simply not true."

The statement didn't explain Morgan's reasons for leaving Exeter. A witness summons has been issued, and Morgan may also be subject to an order for wasted court costs.

The Herald Express article is available here. ®

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