Apprentice contestant admits fraud
A former contestant in Lord Sugar's hit The Apprentice has admitted four counts of fraud.
Mortgage broker Christopher Farrell faced magistrates in Plymouth, Devon, charged with four counts of fraud by false representation. The 29-year-old, from Arrowe Park Road, Upton, Wirral, Merseyside, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address and enter the guilty pleas.
He was originally arrested in August, shortly before the current series of the BBC One show - which finished on Sunday - was broadcast. He will be sentenced at a later date.
The former Royal Marine, who heard "You're fired" from Lord Sugar in week eight of the show, made a guest appearance on Sunday night's final when he was part of winner Stella English's team creating, marketing and selling an alcoholic drink.
His Apprentice profile said he claims to show no emotion, likes to be pushed and, as a former Royal Marine, is not afraid to give people a "kick up the backside".
In pleading guilty, Farrell also asked for three further charges to be taken into consideration. After hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence, magistrates decided their powers of sentence were insufficient and committed Farrell to Plymouth Crown Court to be sentenced on January 28.
They also ordered a pre-sentence report and released the former TV star on unconditional bail until sentencing.
Magistrates were told that the mortgage adviser worked for a firm in Plymouth for nearly two years until he was sacked.
Mr Gittins explained that Farrell, who earned a salary of £1,600 a month, would earn commission if he made sales of more than £5,000 a month. Desperate to earn more money to support his wife and young family, Farrell started inflating the incomes of clients to ensure their mortgage applications were successful - thereby hitting his monthly sales target.
Farrell would either alter P60 forms or payslips to show his clients in a more favourable light to a mortgage lender or create fake documents, magistrates were told, and the clients had no knowledge of what he was doing.