Former Accrington hairdresser's £1m fraud

Lancashire Telegraph: Deborah Clarkson Deborah Clarkson

A HAIRDRESSER lived a flamboyant lifestyle after fraudulently obtaining almost £1million to buy two luxurious seaside homes.

Deborah Clarkson, 45, who used to run a salon in Accrington, claimed to be earning £250,000 a year on mortgage applications.

But Preston Crown Court heard that her income at the time of the offences was just £4,000 in 2004 and £5,500 in 2005.

The court heard that Clarkson and her husband Mark were living a flamboyant lifestyle and drove a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes Benz sports car.

But her husband Mark had been declared bankrupt in 1999 and any profits he made would have had to have been declared to the trustees of his bankruptcy.

So his wife "pretended" to be paying for the properties with legitimate well-paid employment, the court heard.

Clarkson, now of Clifton Road, Lytham, was found guilty of two charges of obtaining services by deception after a three-day trial.

She used to live in Granville Gardens, Accrington, and ran The Designer Team for Hair in Water Street in the town, before selling up around two years ago.

The court heard that Clarkson applied for remortgages of £600,000 and £304,000 to the Halifax bank and the Bank of Scotland in 2003 for houses in West Beach and Clifton Drive in Lytham.

Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, said that despite claims on mortgage applications of a £250,000 income she had filled out income tax returns stating her real earnings.

He said, in reality, she was at home looking after the children.

Mr Grout-Smith said at the time the couple married, in January 2002, the defendant was running a hairdresser's salon in Accrington, earning about £13,000 a year.

He said: "This is a long way from the £250,000 claimed by her later. She claimed to the banks she had a job in property and she was paid £250,000-a-year, when in fact she was a hairdresser who gave up work to have children and whose earnings were nowhere near that.

"She told that lie to further the family's financial interests and also to help her husband who was at the time and remains an undischarged bankrupt."

The court heard that the family had a Rolls Royce car with personalised number plate, as well as a Mercedes Benz sports car.

Clarkson was arrested in February last year and charged in July.

During the trial, Mr Grout-Smith questioned John Mills, a financial adviser, who had filled in the mortgage application forms at a visit to the Clarkson's home.

He said he had filled in the forms based on information given to him by the couple, but could not specifically remember which of the two had given him which details.

The documents were signed and dated by Clarkson.

In court she said that she had not read the mortgage papers before signing them.

She said: "Our finances were always something my husband Mark had dealt with."

Clarkson told the jury that she rarely opened bank statements unless asked to do so by her husband.

She also told how she did not realise she had mortgages for two properties at the time of her arrest.

Mr Grout Smith asked Clarkson if she had intended to mislead Halifax or the Royal Bank of Scotland on forms.

She said: "Not ever in any shape or form, I've never done anything like that."

Mr Grout-Smith then asked: "How would it sit if your husband asked you to mislead the banks?"

She replied: "I wouldn't go along with it, I did believe he'd never put me in that position."

Clarkson will be sentenced next month after court reports are completed.

In May 1999 Mark Clarkson was declared bankrupt 20 months after the Lords of Burnley print firm he headed collapsed, leaving 50 workers without a job and owing £20,000 in unpaid wages.

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