Couple guilty of £250k mortgage fraud

Couple guilty of £250k mortgage fraud

A prominent republican and one-time would-be bomber has pleaded guilty to more than a quarter of a million pounds of mortgage fraud.

As well as three charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception, 48-year-old Brian Joseph Arthurs also pleaded guilty to two further counts of possessing criminal property to a total of £31,718 at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Alongside Arthurs in the dock was his 49-year-old wife Paula Ann, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of obtaining a money transfer by deception, namely a £52,000 mortgage from the Bank of Ireland on a date unknown between 3 November 1996 and 10 January 1997.

The couple, from the Finulagh Road in Castlecaulfield, had been due to go on trial but their lawyers asked for some of the charges to be put to them again.

They had faced further charges of obtaining services by deception, possessing and converting criminal property but after they pleaded guilty, prosecuting QC Liam McCollum asked Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland to leave those counts "on the books, not to be proceeded with".

According to the indictment, Brian Arthurs admitted to three fraudulent but successful mortgage applications totalling £345,250, borrowed from three lending companies, namely the Bank of Ireland, Birmingham Midshires and The Mortgage Business PLC.

In the particulars of each charge, it is apparent that Brian Arthurs inflated his income by £34,500, claiming he had another job and had no other debts while his wife Paula claimed to the Bank of Ireland she was a hair salon manageress earning £18,500.

The trial was due to go ahead on Wednesday as a 'scheduled' case, to be heard not by a jury but by a judge alone, a decision which the couple unsuccessfully appealed.

Arthurs was once a member of the Sinn Féin party and had acted as an election agent on behalf of Michelle Gildernew but back in 1995, he was handed a 25-year jail term for possessing explosives, later released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Judge McFarland adjourned both passing sentence and a confiscation application under the Proceeds of Crime Act for two weeks.

Releasing the couple on bail, he warned them however that was "no indication" as to the possible sentence they will face.


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