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Man who forged wife's name on mortgage to pay off bets avoids jail

By Nevin Farrell

Published 17/09/2015

Kenneth McKittrick leaves Antrim Crown Court
Kenneth McKittrick leaves Antrim Crown Court

A man who forged his then wife's signature to re-mortgage their house for £125,000 in a "cynical abuse of trust" to pay off a huge gambling debt has been spared a jail sentence.

To commit the fraud, Kenneth McKittrick (46) of Milltown View in Londonderry's Tullyally area, lied to a loan company that his partner no longer lived at the then family home at Masteragwee Road, near Coleraine.

Antrim Crown Court was told that earlier this year he pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud by false representation, forgery and obtaining a money transfer by deception on dates in 2006 and 2007.

The couple were married in 1995 and in 1999 took out a £52,000 mortgage on their home with an end date of 2019 but the fraud came to light in 2011 when a court re-possession letter arrived. His wife then discovered he had a "severe gambling addiction" and had taken out a loan against the increased value of the house.

As the judge said he was suspending a two year jail term for three years, his now ex-wife broke down in tears.

Last week, Crown prosecutor Tessa Kitson told the court that when initially asked to reveal how much the loan was for, McKittrick threatened to harm himself.

Then in 2012, when a Child Support letter revealed "previous indiscretions" the couple split up.

McKittrick's then ex-partner discovered that in 2006 her name had been taken off property deeds and her signature had been forged to give the impression she had signed over her interest to the defendant.

McKittrick said he needed the money for gambling.

The court was told Mrs McKittrick is still in the family home and is in talks with the building society. Ms Kitson said there was planning involved in the case which was a "cynical abuse of trust" and that the money had not been repaid by the defendant, nor is it likely to be as he is not working.

Earlier defence barrister Alan Stewart said his client had alcohol and gambling addictions and that after running up "significant" gambling debts re-mortgaged the house to clear them off and was not living a "lavish lifestyle".

He said McKittrick had intended to re-pay the money and did for a few years up until 2009 when his life went into "meltdown" after he lost his job and he attempted suicide.

In 2012 Mr Stewart said the arrival of a Child Support letter brought "previous indiscretions" to light and the marriage broke down.

Mr Stewart said the defendant was "tearful" during police interviews and expressed contrition and wished he could "turn the clock back".

Sentencing McKittrick, Judge Paul Ramsey QC said he had to take into account McKittrick's full admissions, a first time guilty plea, his minor record and his "remorse and sorrow" after he told a psychiatrist he knew what he did was "hateful" and wished it had never happened.

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