A COMPLEX mortgage fraud trial – which was due to last until Christmas – has collapsed at Mold Crown Court after all seven defendants pleaded guilty to their individual roles.
More than 70 potential jurors were summoned to attend at the start of the week and it took a day-and-a-half to select a potential jury – and, unusually, four reserves were selected as well because of the length of the trial.
But they were then sent away for behind the scenes negotiationsCha to take place.
Then, during the week, various defendants either changed their pleas or pleaded guilty to alternative charges and yesterday Judge Rhys Rowlands initially faced the prospect of a three-week trial involving one defendant only.
But he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge and the judge adjourned the case for sentencing at Caernarfon Crown Court on January 13 next year.
The case was linked to a long trial which took place at Mold earlier this year when five people were convicted of a fraud.
The prosecution alleged that the fraud involved between £15 and £20 million.
On that occasion the main players behind the illegal venture – former policeman Anthony Lowri-Huws, 65, of Parc Tudor, Kinmel Bay, got seven years and developer Sheila Whalley, 67, of Tai Duon Bach, Llanfair TH, Abergele, received six years.
Solicitor Nicholas Jones, 54, from Mold and surveyor Frank Darlington, 62, from Vicarage Road, Kelnbrook, Lancashire got four years each.
Huw’s wife Susan Lowri-Huws, 60, Park Tudor, Kinmel Bay, said to be on the periphery and under the influence of her husband, received a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years with 300 hours of unpaid work.
All denied conspiracy to defraud but were convicted following a four month trial.
The new trial was due to involve Sheila Whalley’s daughter and son-in-law, Lisa Hansen, 44, and Christopher Hansen, 40, of Y Castell, Kinmel Bay, and her son and daughter-in-law, Brendan, 45, and Nicola Spencer Whalley, 41, of Llysfaen but now living in Oxfordshire; her youngest son Raymond Whalley, 36, of South Hill Road, Prenton, Merseyside, and two mortgage agents or packagers, David Arthur McMeekin, 57, and Linda Campbell, 43, both from Glasgow.
Lisa Hansen admitted conspiring to falsify documents at an earlier hearing in Cardiff and her husband Christopher Hansen pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Brendan and Nicola Spencer-Whalley admitted the same charge.
Then on Thursday McMeekin and Campbell admitted a new charge of fraud – making false representations to mortgage companies.
The jury returned yesterday and a trial was due to be held against Raymond Whalley but he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of using mortgage application forms as false instruments.
Judge Rhys Rowlands told the jury that the trial was fixed last year and was scheduled to last until Christmas but the position now was that no trial would take place.
l One trial linked to the investigation remains. Accountant Michael Georgieff Jones, 70, of Cam Road in Dyserth, is also charged with the original conspiracy amid allegations that he provided finance. But he was too ill to stand trial and his case was adjourned.
Prosecutor Patrick Harrington, QC, told the court that was likely to take eight to 10 weeks.
The judge said they would consider a potential date in January but said it might not be possible to hold his trial until September, 2014.