King Bros twin found guilty

SYDNEY (AAP): One of two brothers behind the failed King Brothers bus company has been found guilty of defrauding a major bank of $44 million over a non-existent fleet of buses.

In one of the first majority jury verdicts in NSW, Anthony King was convicted in the Downing Centre District Court yesterday after a two-week trial.

However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of his twin brother, Peter, who stood trial alongside him.

The twins' bus company, which was based at Port Macquarie and operated extensively on the Coffs Coast, went into administration in April 2003.

The brothers were accused of defrauding the National Australia Bank (NAB) of $44 million in December 2000.

Prosecutors told the court the fraud involved 'selling' 144 second-hand buses to NAB, which would then lease the vehicles back to the Kings.

But the buses did not exist, the prosecution alleged.

The brothers each pleaded not guilty to defrauding the NAB, arguing that the bank was trying to make them scapegoats in the wake of a 'flawed' business decision.

After the 11-member jury indicated yesterday they could not reach a unanimous verdict for either of the brothers, Judge Helen Murrell gave them the option of returning a majority ten-one verdict.

"After eight hours of deliberation, it is possible for a jury to return a verdict where only one person disagrees," the judge told them.

The jurors later returned a guilty verdict for Anthony King.

It is one of the first cases in NSW in which a jury has delivered a majority verdict, after legislation was passed earlier this year.

Anthony King did not react as the verdict was handed down, but it was met with tears from several of his supporters in the public gallery.

The jury's failure to reach a verdict in the matter of Peter King means he will probably face a retrial.

His case returns to the District Court on Friday, and Anthony King will face a sentencing hearing in November.

Crown prosecutor Merv Grogan opposed bail for Anthony King, saying the offence attracted a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and he was likely to receive a full-time custodial sentence.

But Judge Murrell released him on conditional bail, ordering him to report twice weekly to police in his home city of Brisbane.

The King Brothers bus company provided services from Newcastle to Tweed Heads in northern NSW, and as far west as Wagga Wagga.

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