A 56-year-old former solicitor was among seven people sentenced for their involvement in a £1.5 million 13-year mortgage fraud.

The seven, who admitted their part in the fraud, were sentenced in June.

But there were restrictions on reporting the case.

The restrictions were lifted after an eighth person was found not guilty last week in connection with the fraud.

In a statement yesterday, police said businessman John Gaile (52), of Castlerock, Co Derry, set up a scam with the help of four members of his family and then solicitor John Hickey (56), from Portstewart, Co Derry.

Gaile applied for mortgages using inflated prices for properties, most of them in the Coleraine area.

The scam meant that lenders offered bigger loans than Gaile would have normally been given, and he had to contribute less from his own money.

Most of the mortgages were obtained through Co Down independent financial adviser William Larmour (63), from Holywood.

Between September 1995 and April 2008 Gaile sold the properties, sometimes to family members or to Hickey, who has since been struck off by the Law Society for his part in the scam.

Gaile either took the profit from each sale or put it towards the purchase of another property which was bought using a fraudulent mortgage.

Police estimated that the scam made a profit of more than £480,000. Although Hickey, whose profit came from legal fees for processing the applications, only gained £5,000.

The total value of the fraudulent mortgages was more than £1.5 million.

Gaile, Hickey and Larmour were sentenced at Belfast’s Laganside Court in June.

Gaile and Hickey were each sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for three years, for crimes including money laundering.

Larmour was handed a conditional discharge for failing to disclose money laundering.

Gaile’s brother Paul (50); Paul’s wife Lena (49) and their son Lee Paul (29), all with an address at Limavady, were sentenced for money laundering.

Paul Gaile was handed a one-year suspended sentence, while Lena Gaile and Lee Paul Gaile both got suspended sentences of six months.

John Gaile’s son Kieran Gaile (30), of Castlerock, was handed a conditional discharge for crimes including fraud by false representation.

The case can be reported on now after another defendant, Patrick Gaile (51), of Coleraine, was found not guilty at Belfast Crown Court last week of obtaining a service by deception.

Peter Madden, Madden & Finucane, solicitor advocate for Patrick Gaile, who was acquitted said:

“This has been a very long and protracted investigation and prosecution, but after a five day jury trial, my client was found not guilty by a jury.

“He had a completely clear record and has been vindicated by the jury’s decision and he is relieved that it is all over.”

The Irish News