Beds, Herts & Bucks

Solicitor guilty of defrauding severely disabled siblings

Bartlett family
Image caption The two grown-up children of Mr and Mrs Bartlett live with their parents

A solicitor has been found guilty of fraud after he persuaded two severely disabled siblings to "sign" away the rights to their home.

Ranbir Dhaliwal got John and Clare Bartlett to make "marks" on legal papers denying them a claim to the home if their parents defaulted on a loan.

Dhaliwal, 45, of Carnoustie Drive, Bedford, told St Albans Crown Court he thought the pair could understand him.

But the jury found him guilty of three counts of fraud.

Giving evidence, Dhaliwal himself told a jury that what happened that day back in January 2008 had been a "judgement call" that he now bitterly regretted.

Image caption Dhaliwal had denied three offences of fraud

The jury found him guilty of one charge of fraud by abuse of position and two charges of fraud by false representation.

Judge John Plumstead told Dhaliwal he would grant him bail until 2 December when he must come back to court to be sentenced. The judge warned him to expect a custodial sentence.

The jury was told the documents on which John and Clare Bartlett made the marks gave away any rights they had to stay in the family home in Wyton in Huntingdon if their parents were to default on a £250,000 loan and the house was repossessed.

The court heard that the finance company which had offered the loan was unaware of the siblings' disability and Dhaliwal had been hired by a pair of conmen to obtain the marks.

The men - Gary Carr, 49, from Stotfold in Bedfordshire and Mark Carmichael, 48, from Waltham Abbey in Essex - have already been sentenced for a million-pound photocopier scam, which eventually left the Bartletts bankrupt to the tune of £1.3m.

Carr was eventually jailed for four years and eight months and Carmichael was jailed for up for 15 months.

During the trial, the jury heard from a psychiatrist who had seen the children on behalf of the prosecution who said it was "blindingly obvious to anyone who interacts with them" they were severely mentally handicapped and would not have understood a word Dhaliwal said to them.

The judge said in addition to any prison sentence he passes on Dhaliwal he also wanted go take the fee he got that day of £2,000 and give it to the children.

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