Cou­ple ran away to Spain af­ter steal­ing prof­its from pub sale

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Family Announcements -

A COU­PLE who ran a vil­lage pub out­side Ash­ford fled to Spain leav­ing a string of debts, a court has heard.

Ex-po­lice­man Gra­ham Hornigold, 62, and part­ner Lynda Anne Parker, 56, bought The Wool­pack Inn in Church Road, Warehorne.

They re­ceived a £300,000 mort- gage from North­ern Rock, de­spite Hornigold be­ing an undis­charged bank­rupt.

The cou­ple al­ready owed cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing the In­land Rev­enue, more than £40,000.

But Can­ter­bury Crown Court heard how the two later sold the pub for more than £500,000.

And on the day the deeds were ex­changed, they per­suaded the new own­ers to give them a lift to an ho­tel en route to Spain, said Tanya Robin­son, pros­e­cut­ing.

They pock­eted the £200,000 profit from the sale and stayed in Spain un­til early this year, but they were ar­rested when they re­turned to the UK.

But the two, who both now live in Ox­ford, es­caped im­me­di­ate jail sen­tences af­ter ad­mit­ting charges of ob­tain­ing ser­vices by de­cep­tion and con­ceal­ing prop­erty be­fore bank­ruptcy.

The case has cost the DTI more than £27,000 to pre­pare, the court heard.

Ms Robin­son added that the two were ten­ants at the Wool­pack in 2000, but owed £44,000 to In­land Rev­enue and in un­paid VAT.

Hornigold was also an undis­charged bank­rupt when the two ap­plied for a £300,000 mort­gage to buy the pub.

The court heard that de­spite dis­cov­er­ing that, North­ern Rock still granted Parker the loan.

But the cou­ple were al­ready in­volved with an in­sol­vency prac­ti­tioner who had or­gan­ised an “In­di­vid­ual Vol­un­tary Ar­range­ment” so the debts could be re­paid at £1,625 a month.

Ms Robin­son said the cou­ple never told the in­sol­vency prac­ti­tioner of the plan to buy the pub.

The court heard that be­cause they were al­ready sit­ting ten­ants, the cou­ple got the pub at a lower price.

By 2002, they had sold it for £525,000 and then fled abroad with the prof­its from the sale.

Ms Robin­son said they used the money to help buy prop­erty in Malaga, as the in­sol­vency prac­ti­tioner and later the Of­fi­cial Re­ceiver tried to re­cover the debts.

The court heard that the two, who live in the same house, are now plan­ning to split and don’t speak to each other. Both said they were ashamed. Judge Ti­mothy Nash told them: “You are both a dis­grace to each other and to your fam­i­lies. You have brought shame upon them.

“This was greed, dis­hon­est greed.”

Hornigold was given a ninemonth and Parker a four-month jail sen­tence, both sus­pended for 12 months.

They will re­turn to court next year when the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try will try to re­cover some of the debts. Com­ment­ing af­ter the case Busi­ness Min­is­ter Pat McFad­den said: “We are de­ter­mined to crack down on cheats like th­ese who profit by de­cep­tion. “When some­one acts in this way they are ef­fec­tively steal­ing from hon­est cred­i­tors, who are owed money and can suf­fer as a re­sult.

“This prose­cu­tion sends a clear mes­sage to would-be fraud­sters that they won’t get away with it.”

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