£5.2m mortgage scam was run from Midhurst

A Midhurst office was at the centre of a mortgage fraud which saw major lenders swindled out of more than £5m.

Singleton couple Neil Negus (50) and his wife Karen Bone (48) ran a mortgage broking company, Karnell Management, from its office at Peachey House in Bepton Road, which forged 26 different mortgage

applications totalling 5.2m.

Guildford Crown Court heard how Negus forged his wife's signature, and supplied bogus national insurance numbers, pay slips and other documents when applying for mortgages.

The scam duped banks and building societies such as Northern Rock and Halifax across Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey over a period of five years.

Before Negus was sentenced, the court heard evidence from Midhurst Cancer Research charity shop volunteer Christine Barrett, who knows Negus through his volunteer work.

The court was told that Negus still has a direct debit set up donating money to the shop.

"He comes in regularly twice a week and three afternoons a week," she said. "He operates the till and has access to the safe.

"I have absolutely no qualms about his trustworthiness and honesty.

"He is a breath of life to my elderly volunteers – he will just be so, so missed."

The largest single application was for a re-mortgage of Negus and Bone's home, Flambards, in Singleton, worth 650,000.

Described as someone who could 'charm the birds from the trees', Negus recruited others into his plan, using 57-year-old accountant John Kinnear to make the applications seem more credible with false earning

figures.

He also gave a job to his son-in-law, Barry Stevenson (34), who is a former Arun District Council employee, to work as office manager.

Judge Peter Moss said Negus's personality led to people having confidence in him, in particular his wife, who he said was 'dazzled' by him.

"He is clearly someone who could have applied himself in another way," he said. "In a strange way he is not a career criminal, but he is more dangerous than that."

He added: "His personality no doubt in the initial stages led to a confidence in him, which led to Mr Kinnear's fall from grace. He has this double character."

Defending Stevenson, Paul Sims said: "This fraud was all underway by the time he came across it.

"He took the job innocently thinking it to be an honest and proper job.

"He was brought in, shown how to do things and carried on doing so."

The other defendant involved in the scam was Mark Pickering (38) of Lime Drive, Fleet, Hampshire.

Described as a customer of the scam, he received multiple loans with the help of Karnell Management.

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