A solicitor who fled to South Africa to avoid trial has been sentenced to six years in prison for “spectacular” mortgage frauds and theft worth more than £1m.
The Serious Fraud Office says John Fitzpatrick acted “as a facilitator” to a dishonest mortgage broker and his client in a fraudulent back to back property sale at an inflated price. The sale defrauded the lender and involved forged documents and identity theft.
In November he pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining money transfers by deception and seven charges of theft representing £1,157,000. The offences took place between 1997 and 2001.
The seven counts of theft involved Fitzpatrick stealing clients’ money. Three counts related to theft of funds entrusted to him in the course of the victims buying or selling a home.
One victim was left jobless and homeless as a result of Fitzpatrick stealing money intended for the purchase of a home and business.
Another arrived to move in at the home he believed he had bought only to find it had not been sold to him at all and Fitzpatrick had stolen the purchase funds.
Four counts related to theft of funds entrusted to Fitzpatrick for investment on the false promise of high returns, which were instead appropriated for his own purposes.
Fitzpatrick fled Britain to evade justice in 2004 and had to be extradited from South Africa in May.
The Serious Fraud Office says Fitzpatrick was the instigator, prime mover and principal beneficiary of another mortgage fraud, both on the mortgage lender and his own client.
In passing sentence Judge Moore said: “John Fitzpatrick joined with others in two quite spectacular mortgage frauds.
“The final theft deserved special mention as John Fitzpatrick was so desperate for money at that stage to avoid an inevitable investigation, he stole £100,000 of client money.”