Northern Ireland jeweller and sister face fraud trial over mother's will
A jeweller and his sister are to stand trial accused of fraud offences in relation to their mother's will.
David Malcolm Lauro (50), of Hollybrook Grove, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, and his 43-year-old sister Elaine Alison Diane Lauro, of Lough Moss Park, Carryduff, Co Down, appeared at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday.
Standing side by side in the dock for their arraignment hearing, the pair pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud by false representation.
The charge states that on February 28, 2016 the pair "made a representation to their siblings which they knew was untrue or misleading, namely that their mother Anna Lauro had signed an original will dated December 27, 2015'' in contravention of the Fraud Act 2006.
Elaine Lauro further denied a separate offence of using a false instrument with intent under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.
The charge states that on February 25, 2016, she allegedly presented a cheque "which she knew to be false... with the intention of inducing Santander to accept it as genuine... to make a payment of £167,000 to her''.
Judge Donna McColgan QC listed the trial to start on March 11.
It is expected to last a week.
A defence barrister told the court that a handwriting expert was being engaged in the case for the defendants.
He made a legal aid application for David Lauro, telling Judge McColgan that he was a jeweller by profession and said there were assets the court might feel could be "realised'' in paying for his defence.
The lawyer said that the legal aid application had previously been refused in the Magistrates Court on the grounds of David Lauro's income and assets. Judge McColgan told the lawyer: "I am refusing the legal aid application.''
Judge McColgan added that the legal aid application could be moved on the morning of the trial, but warned that if she was the trial judge, she could refuse it again.
A legal aid application on behalf of Elaine Lauro was adjourned until next month when the case is reviewed ahead of the trial.