Solicitor who went on a 'hedonistic adventure' after £500k mortgage fraud dies aged 60
Conman had found religion and was living in Ballymena sheltered housing complex
A swindling solicitor who stole almost £500,000 by means of a mortgage fraud and used the money to go on a "hedonistic adventure" has died peacefully aged 60.
Philip Crossey, who used a number of aliases, while living the high life, later found religion and was living in a sheltered housing complex in Ballymena when he died.
He had also been suffering from diabetes and had one of his legs amputated as a result.
In 2009, the solicitor, who by then had built up an extensive legal practice in east Belfast, was convicted of theft under the name Philip Krown.
In the case, which became known as "the Krown Affair", Belfast Crown Court heard that the then 53-year-old had over a two-year period opened a Swiss bank account and used some of the money he had stolen to rent an upmarket apartment in the fashionable Rutland Gate area of Knightsbridge in London.
He also travelled extensively to his glamorous wife's home country of Colombia and across Europe, had an expense account at the Ritz Hotel and splashed out on numerous pieces of expensive jewellery.
Crossey was arrested by police officers at Gatwick Airport in March 2008, just as he and his wife were about to board a flight to Barcelona.
All his defrauded money, the court heard, had come from him remortgaging his Groomsport home for £445,000 and simply taking the money, rather than using the cash to pay off the existing loan.
In mitigation, Judge Miller said the offences were set against a backdrop of Crossey's mental and physical deterioration since being was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999, culminating in the amputation of his left leg in June 2005, which in turn led to depression, paranoia and a personality change.
The defendant walked free from court after being given a suspended four-year jail term.
The leniency of the sentence sparked outrage at the time, with DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt describing it as "incredible".
"It is appalling that somebody like that walks away from court," he added. "Given the enormity of the figure of money stolen, it is absolutely incredible that such a person is effectively allowed to get away with it. Jail is the right place for someone like that.
"If it had been anyone else, they could have almost banked on not being treated in such a lenient manner.
"It doesn't bode well for people to have confidence in the legal system. Severe sentences are what we need in cases like this."
In 2011, the shamed former solicitor was jailed for six months for contempt of court.
And in 2012, he was declared bankrupt after a High Court petition from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.
Last night, friends of the late Mr Crossey shared messages of sympathy on social media.
Seanjohn McAnally wrote: "My friend Phillip Sebastian Crossey went to glory tonight. Now he's rejoicing round the throne. No more pain."
Von O'Kane added: "So sorry to hear this news my friend. Such a great man of God and a blessing to so many. I'm holding you and this family in prayer at this time."
The late Mr Crossey's funeral is to take place next Tuesday at Green Pastures Church in Galgorm at 11.30am, followed by interment at Cullybackey New Cemetery.