Solicitor jailed for fraud


A solicitor was yesterday, Monday, 02 December 2013, sentenced at St Albans Crown Court to nine months in prison after he persuaded a severely disabled brother and sister to ‘sign’ away their home. He had been found guilty of fraud on 22 November 2013.

Ranbir Dhaliwal, aged 45, of Carnoustie Drive, Bedford, had been recruited by two men to get his victims, 30-year-old John and 33-year-old Clare Bartlett, to 'sign' documents, which would give away their right to stay in their family home in Wyton, Cambridgeshire should their parents fail to meet payments on a £250,000 loan.

Their parents, who ran a music printing business, had been encouraged to take the loan by Gary Carr, aged 49, from Stotfold, and Mark Carmichael, aged 48, from Waltham Abbey - the men who had hired Ranbir Dhaliwal. The two men had been defrauding the Bartletts through a photocopying scam and were encouraging them to consolidate their finances.

The court heard that the finance company, who were totally unaware of how severely disabled John and Clare were, stipulated they should be given independent legal advice, which is when Dhaliwal was recruited to speak with them and get them to mark the documents to sign over their home. Mr Dahliwal then contacted the finance company to tell them he had explained the legal implications to the Bartletts' children.

Ruth Bowskill, Temporary Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This was a cruel fraud during which a solicitor, Ranbir Dhaliwal, recruited by fraudsters; Gary Carr and Mark Carmichael as part of their larger fraud, duped his severely mentally and physically handicapped victims in to signing away their parents' home, and their right to stay in it should their parents default on loan repayments.  They made their marks on the legal documents, which Dhaliwal submitted with letters confirming that his clients had understood the requirement of the waiver they had signed and that they were legally bound by it once they had signed it. It is blindingly obvious to anyone that interacts with the victims that they would not have understood what they were signing.

"Dhaliwal did not act in the best interests of his clients, was motivated purely by money, and is clearly a very dishonest and callous man.  The offences committed are despicable, pitiless and heartless.

"We have a duty to protect the vulnerable members of our society.  The CPS takes the criminal mistreatment of vulnerable people extremely seriously and built a strong case to present the court with the full extent of the offending.

"This case should give victims the confidence to speak up.  Victims should not hesitate to report trust cons/fraudsters to the police, so that they can be prosecuted appropriately in order to prevent further victims being preyed upon.

"This case also sends a clear message to those involved in this kind of criminality that we will robustly prosecute them to ensure that justice is done, and that they will pay not only financially, but with their liberty too.

"We have worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary since the investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.

"This case represents a tragedy for the victims, who have lost their business and have been left bankrupt.  We know that nothing can undo what has happened to them, but we hope that today's conviction and sentence, along with the convictions and sentences of Carr and Carmichael, bring them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Inspector Steve Keating from the Economic Crime Unit said: "Dhaliwal's crimes are despicable. He targeted John and Clare on their own knowing they were extremely vulnerable.

"This is an extremely tragic case, which has left a family bankrupt, but I hope that the sentences handed down to those that committed crimes against them will be of some small comfort."