A Kelbrook man involved in a mortgage fraud of “breathtaking proportions” has been jailed for four years.
Frank Edward Philip Darlington (62), of Vicarage Road, was one of four defendants sentenced to a total of 21 years by Mold Crown Court.
Darlington, a surveyor, and his fellow defendants, former policeman Anthony Lowri-Huws, developer Sheila Whalley and solicitor Nicholas Jones all denied conspiracy to defraud but were convicted following a four-month trial.
The prosecution said the value of the fraud was between £15 and £24m. but Judge Rhys Rowlands said, for sentencing purposes only, he would deal with them on the £6m. figure put forward by the defence – the difference between what lenders paid out and what they would have paid out if the applications were genuine.
The court heard how Darlington provided false valuations and rental income figures and Jonesdid the conveyancing work for the purchases and mortgage applications.
The jury heard mortgage lenders were duped into lending thousands of pounds in mortgages on properties across North Wales, Cheshire and the North West in a fraud conspiracy.
The case involved 189 mortgage applications.
The prosecution said the deceit was achieved by inflating the actual value of the property used as security, hiding the fact that, in some cases, no deposit was put down or inflating the rental income potential to make the mortgage rate more acceptable. In some cases the apartments on which mortgages were advanced simply did not exist.
Mr Simon Killeen (defending) said his client was not part of the enterprise, and had received no great profits or money.
He obtained work and was paid £60 or £80 for his valuations. The close relationship he had meant he had been able to obtain a £38,000 mortgage for a property in Scotland but that was not part payment for his involvement.
The defendant had been a surveyor for a long time but that had now all gone. He had lost his good name, his character and reputation and he knew he had to go into custody.
The trial had been a difficult experience, he had been staying with a friend in Chester and suffered ill-health. It was accepted it was a breach of trust against the lenders.
Sentencing, Judge Rhys Rowlands told the defendants: “The jury was quite satisfied this was dishonesty on a fairly breath-taking scale in which each of your took part. Each of you set to brazen it out hoping the jury would acquit you.
“None of you were prepared to give evidence. You had no confidence at all with being able to deal with the obvious questions that would have been asked of you by the prosecution.
“I have heard it saidthere is a fine line between making a profit legitimately and deceiving people to make money dishonestly.
“In this case the evidence is plain. Each of you crossed that line by a country mile.”
Under the banking system in place at the time, the financial institutions relied on surveyors and solicitors to protect their interests. Without the involvement of Jones and Darlington, the conspiracy could not have succeeded.