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Ex-Apprentice fraudster spared jail

A former contestant in Lord Sugar's hit The Apprentice has been given a suspended sentence for fraud.

Mortgage broker Christopher Farrell attempted to dupe lenders by falsifying customers' applications so they were more likely to be loaned money.

The former Royal Marine, who appeared in the most recent series of the BBC1 show, inflated applicants' salaries and forged documents to clinch them a mortgage - and in turn increase his chances of reaching his sales bonus, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Farrell, 29, was arrested last August after a bank cottoned on to the fraud, but tried to blame his colleagues for forging the documents.

However, he quickly admitted his guilt and pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation before magistrates in Plymouth last month. He asked for three further charges to be taken into consideration.

Farrell, of Arrowe Park Road, Upton, Wirral, Merseyside, was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and 200 hours' community service.

He worked as a mortgage and insurance adviser with the company Mortgages for Plymouth between November 2007 and August 2009 and went on to take part in The Apprentice, where he was fired by Lord Sugar in week eight of the show.

The former broker, who earned £1,600 a month, would earn commission of between £300 and £400 if he made sales of more than £5,000 a month.

Under pressure to support his wife and young child, he admitted altering P60 forms, payslips and creating fake documents to ensure their mortgage applications were successful - thereby hitting his monthly target.

His arrest emerged on the eve of the start of the last series of Lord Sugar's show when it was also revealed that he had two previous convictions for possessing an offensive weapon.

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From Belfast Telegraph