A MAGISTRATE from East Lancashire convicted of a £360,000 mortgage fraud has walked free from court.

Judge Christopher Cornwall said he was satisfied that Shanaz Hussain had acted ‘wholly uncharacteristically’, during a bitter divorce, when she forged her husband’s signature on several key documents.

The JP and mother-of-four Hussain, from Haslingden, is a former co-director of the Lincoln Group of Companies and said to be a pillar of the community.

But she was convicted after a Preston Crown Court trial of submitting a host of forged documents to secure the transfer of her matrimonial home, 163c Manchester Road in Burnley, from her former husband Mazhar.

Passing sentence Judge Christopher Cornwall said: “Having achieved so much you find yourself having fallen to the ground from a great height.”

But the judge ruled that the failure of her 20-year marriage, and an ‘acrimonious divorce’ was the explanation for her behaviour.

And he said that the public interest would not be served by sending Hussain, who is no longer a magistrate, directly to prison.

Hussain, 39, who was found guilty of seven fraud offences, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She must also complete 300 hours community service.

Peter Birkett QC, defending, said that his client had been advised, by her solicitors, that in all likelihood she would be awarded the house in any divorce settlement.

But Hussain, who had initially told the Lancashire Telegraph she planned to appeal her conviction, now accepted she had acted dishonestly in committing forgery, the court heard.

Mr Birkett told the court that the loss her reputation and the publicity surrounding the case served as a ‘huge punishment’ for Hussain.

A jury was told that not only did Hussain forge her former husband’s signatures on a financial declaration and Land Registry documents but she had also falsely signed the name of a Blackburn solicitor as a witness.

Last night the Office for Judicial Complaints confirmed that Hussain, who served on the Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale bench for six years, was no longer a magistrate.