Surveyor from Kelbrook accused of £1m property fraud

Frank Darlington

Frank Darlington

First published in News

A SURVEYOR provided ‘inflated’ valuations on mortgage applications as part of at least a million pound property scam, a court heard.

Frank Edward Darlington, 60, from Kelbrook, has gone on trial along with a solicitor, two property speculators, a financial adviser and another surveyor.

A jury heard that the scale and extent of the fraud was difficult to envisage, but it included house, flats and apartments.

The properties, some of which were fictional, non-existent or existed in a different form than claimed by the defendants, were in North Wales, Cheshire and the North West.

Prosecutors said bogus applications for mortgages were made in the names of friends or relatives and others who were used as ‘dupes’ and were totally unaware that mortgages had been taken out on their behalf.

Darlington, of Vicarage Road, Kelbrook, and the other defendants deny conspiring to defraud and conspiring to falsify documents between May 2003 and June 2008.

Prosecutor Patrick Harrington QC said that some of were, in fact, fictional, non-existent or existed in a different form than claimed by the defendants.

Property speculators Antony Lowry-Huws, 63, of Parc Tudur, Kinmel Bay, and his business partner Sheila Rose Whalley, 66, of Tai Duon Bach, Llanfairtalhaearn, near Abergele, are said to be the driving forces behind the plot.

Huws’ wife Susan Margaret Lowry-Huws, 59, also of Kinmel Bay, was also alleged to have been involved in individual transactions.

Darlington and George Walker, 58, of of Coed Pella Road, Colwyn Bay, are said to have provided inflated valuations for the mortgage applications.

Solicitor Nicholas John Jones, 53, of Leeswood, near Mold, based in Flint, is said to have carried out the necessary conveyancing work for the transactions to take place.

An accountant, Michael Georgieff Jones, has been accused of providing much of the finance required but he is too ill to stand trial.

Mr Harrington, opening a trial at Mold Crown Court, said that the dishonest scheme began on a modest scale but grew in size and scale.

Mortgages would be obtained in their own names or increasingly as the fraud developed, in the names of family members or others.

“Often these others would be dupes,” said Mr Harrington.

The defendants would obtain sufficient funding to clear any bridging loan, pay for the freehold and for there to be a considerable excess “a dishonest profit” which they would then divided among the conspirators.

A long, detailed and painstaking investigation had been carried out by police.

He said that it all came to light when in December 2007, a woman was concerned at details of mortgage applications which had been made in her son’s name.

An investigation was set up by the Bradford and Bingley Bank, whose officials later called in the police.

They discovered a mortgage fraud which had been carried out by the defendants, and others, over a period of some years, Mr Harrington alleged.

Property speculators Lowry-Huws and Whalley are said to have been able to obtain buy-to-let mortgages on a host of properties because the likes of Darlington and Walker were willing to overvalue homes.

Darlington and Walker are alleged to have been told what valuation to give, and what the rental income should be, the court heard.

Initially mortgages were taken out in their own names but as the alleged fraud became wider, the court heard, they used the names of family members and others.

The trial, before Judge Rhys Rowlands, is expected to last four months.

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