Belfast Telegraph

Lawyer who dodged jail for mortgage fraud caged after raiding pension fund

Philip Krown drew down £83,000 from his pension, in breach of an injunction

A solicitor who walked free after stealing nearly £500,000 in a mortgage fraud was jailed for flouting a ban on moving assets.

Philip Krown was ordered to serve six months in prison for contempt of court by drawing down an £83,000 pension fund in breach of an injunction.

The 55-year-old, who has used a number of aliases and was once known as William Philip Crossey, first shifted the money to an Isle of Man bank account last year.

Only £16,000 seized by police from a safety deposit box in London was recovered from the fund.

A High Court judge held that he had given misleading and dishonest statements and acted “in flagrant breach of a court order”.

Mr Justice Deeny said: “It's clear a lot of it was spent on unnecessary and pleasurable activities, money that rightly belonged elsewhere.”

Krown, who once ran a successful legal practice in east Belfast, received a suspended four-year jail term in November 2009 for siphoning off funds to go on “a hedonistic adventure”.

He blew £445,000 acquired from remortgaging his home in Groomsport, Co Down, rather than using the money to pay off the existing loan. Krown opened a Swiss bank account and then used the cash to rent an apartment in London, travelled extensively to his wife's home country of Colombia and to Europe, had an expense account at the Ritz Hotel and splashed out on expensive jewellery.

The Law Society launched contempt proceedings against him for breach of an injunction granted to the body as having power of attorney over his financial affairs.

The court heard that out of nearly £400,000 he transferred as part of his original fraud, just over £8,000 was recovered from two Swiss bank accounts.

John Maxwell, for the society, argued that the earlier suspended sentence, based on the struck-off solicitor's medical conditions, represented “a remarkable result”.

He said: “The court has already given Mr Krown the benefit of the doubt. Despite having that second chance, in respect of this court he has shown utter contempt for its order and dealt with this money in a way that was entirely inappropriate.”

But with the Legal Services Commission still investigating Krown, his barrister urged the judge not to send him to jail.

Frank O'Donoghue QC argued that his client has already suffered public humiliation due to a “fall from grace” from a previously highly-successful legal career.

As Krown sat head-bowed throughout, Mr O'Donoghue said: “He's become a complete social and professional pariah.”

The court was told the solicitor is on benefits, living in a rented flat in Ballymena and split up from his second wife.

A chronic diabetic, his condition resulted in one leg being partially amputated.

While Krown could have been jailed for two years, the judge took into account medical reports and that the money involved came from Krown's own pension fund.

Belfast Telegraph

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