Couple who used forged documents to apply for mortgage avoid jail

Judge describes the case as ‘highly unusual and exceptional’

A KBC official became suspicious about the validity of the documents and the bank notified the gardaí of its concerns. Photograph: iStock

A KBC official became suspicious about the validity of the documents and the bank notified the gardaí of its concerns. Photograph: iStock

 

A Dublin couple who used forged documents to apply for a mortgage because they believed they would never qualify for a housing loan have been spared a jail sentence.

Judge Sinéad Ní­ Chúlacháin said Clare Ellis (34) and Gareth Boyle (32) did not realise they were engaging in criminal activity in what was “not a highly sophisticated” effort to deceive a bank.

Sentencing them to periods of community service in lieu of a prison term, the judge described the case as “highly unusual and exceptional”.

“I don’t condone what they did. It was wrong but I do understand why they did,” the judge remarked.

Ellis and Boyle, both of Gurteen Avenue, Ballyfermot, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of attempting to obtain services by deception from KBC Bank.

The couple, who are engaged with two young children, were looking to buy the home of a deceased relative.

Det Garda James Walker of Celbridge garda station said Ms Ellis had completed an application form for a €239,000 mortgage in the Maynooth branch of KBC on March 29th, 2016 and also provided a P60 as well as payslips and a salary certificate.

However, a KBC official became suspicious about the validity of the documents and the bank notified the gardaí of its concerns.

Det Garda Walker said the couple were “extremely cooperative and contrite” when he called to their home on August 14th, 2016.

The court heard they admitted the documents were false but explained that although they could afford the loan repayments they knew they would have difficulty in obtaining a mortgage.

‘Creative accountant’

Det Garda Walker said the couple had obtained the services of a “creative accountant” who was now the subject of a wider garda investigation.

They had paid this individual €2,500 to obtain the false documents and would have owed him more if they had obtained a mortgage, Det Garda Walker said.

Luigi Rea, BL for Ellis, told the court it was a “most unusual offence” and that his client, a childcare worker, was “foolish to fall into temptation”.

Asking for the court to deal with the matter with leniency, Sara-Jane Smyth BL for Boyle, said he had worked all his life as a self-employed tiler but was never going to be in a position to obtain a mortgage.

At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Ní­ Chúlacháin acknowledged that they did not abuse any position of trust through their actions and were not motivated by personal gain.

No loss

The judge also noted that the couple had not instigated the use of falsified documents and that the bank had suffered no actual loss and never could have.

At the same time, she said, the bank was being seriously misled by the use of false documents.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin said the stress tests carried out by banks to assess the ability to repay loans were being done to prevent defaulting and a repeat of the burden placed on taxpayers by the past actions of banks.

The judge said she also recognised “the pressure and intolerable stress” placed on many families trying to pay for housing and avoiding being made homeless.

“They were trying to keep a roof over their heads and those of their children,” she added.

Ellis and Boyle were respectively sentenced to 120 and 100 hours of community service in lieu of prison terms of six and five months.