The Accused: An Inside Job

01/08/2017 16:32 BST | Updated 01/08/2017 16:32 BST
Channel 5

The latest episode of The Accused reveals the inside workings of a complex fraud case: on the one side an elderly lady robbed of her life's savings; on the other Lukasz - a bright young banker facing prison.

When I first met Lukasz his trial and a verdict were still four months away, but I was taken aback by how much his life had already been affected. He'd lost his job and his bank accounts had been frozen. With Lukasz no longer able to support them, his step-mum and young brother had been forced to move 400 miles away to cheaper accommodation in Scotland. He had not yet been found guilty of anything, and yet his life had been thrown into complete and utter turmoil.

For a documentary-maker, these set of circumstances - combined with Lukasz' articulate, passionate and compelling personality - were the perfect basis for a gripping story. But like his lawyers, the challenge for the production team and I was to try and look deep into his life whilst remaining objective and dispassionate and tell his story without ever taking sides.

As Lukasz embarked on rigorous meetings with his defence team to prepare him for trial, I was concerned the evidence in the case would be a weak point in the film. How on earth could the forensic details of bank transactions be as gripping and powerful as the evidence in a murder or kidnap case? Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded - and what transpired was utterly fascinating.

His lawyer, Greg Stewart, and his barrister, Ravinder Saimbhi, used Lukasz' bank log-in details to paint a detailed picture of his activity on customer accounts; intriguing patterns emerged as they located cash machines used in the theft on a map; and throughout, Lukasz's own account of what happened was scrutinised against prosecution statements against him given by colleagues and bosses at his bank.

Alongside their defence detective work, it was fascinating to observe how Greg and Ravinder offered Lukasz advice without ever instructing him what to do or what to say. Like any other defendant, it absolutely had to be Lukasz who decided how his defence should be run and what he would say in court - even if his lawyers didn't always agree with him. This sometimes fractious dynamic between Lukasz and his legal team became a key element in his story - and it wasn't just on-camera relationships that were effected.

As arguments supporting and undermining Lukasz's defence began to mount, my own relationship with him became more complex. Increasingly, Lukasz would seek my and my producer's opinion on events: what did we think of his account of what happened? Did we think we was guilty or innocent? They were natural questions to ask from people in whom he'd invested so much trust and time, but we couldn't answer them. It was our job to accurately show his experience and emotions, but never to reach a verdict. Only the jury could do that.

When Lukasz's trial began, we knew that the outcome could have a massive impact on his life and the lives of his loved ones. If found guilty, the career in finance he'd built over many years would be in tatters, his liberty would be lost, and the future of his young brother and step-mum in Scotland would become even more insecure. If found innocent, he'd be finally released from one of the most frightening experiences that anyone could ever go through.

To make a film about such a huge moment of personal jeopardy, and to offer deep insight into the workings of our legal system, felt like a big responsibility. I hope The Accused: An Inside Job? captures the drama of Lukasz's story with all the sensitivity and thoughtfulness it deserves.

WatchThe Accused: An Inside Job? on My5 catch-up.