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.
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 the UK in 2004 to evade justice and was extradited from South Africa in May 2013.
The SFO says Fitzpatrick was the instigator, prime mover and principal beneficiary of another mortgage fraud against both the mortgage lender and his own client.
In passing sentence, Judge Moore said: “John Fitzpatrick joined with others in two quite spectacular mortgage frauds.”
John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says: “Six years in prison is long enough to make anyone think twice before committing fraud. But I don’t know how the minds of these people work. Presumably they believe they can get away with it.”