Couple ran away to Spain after stealing profits from pub sale
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.”