Jail for Ladybank man who forged ex-wifes signature to sell house

A 59-year-old Ladybank man who conducted an elaborate scheme to obtain money by fraudulently selling a house he jointly owned with his ex-wife has been jailed for 14 months.

Appearing before Sheriff Charles Macnair at Cupar Sheriff Court, Ian Morgan, of Kettle Road, admitted that between November 1 2010 and February 3 2011 he fraudulently tried to sell the property known as The Ashes in High Street, Freuchie, by instructing an estate agent to market it, despite not having the permission of his ex-wife to do so.

He further admitted forging her signature on photographic documentation and other documents and inducing a signature on an affadavit for alterations to the property and thereby attempting to obtain £118,000 by fraud.

The court heard Morgan came up with the scheme to try and “get back” money that his ex-wife took when she left him in 2008 that was meant for their four children, as well as a number of debts she left him to settle.

His defence agent said: “His feelings of hurt festered and he began drinking heavily and it is with great regret to him that he went on to conduct himself in this manner and took matters into his own hands and he wishes he could turn back the clock.

“At the time his judgment was clouded by a sense of grievance, depression and stress, combined with his drinking. He bitterly regrets the mistakes he has made and accepts he must be punished.”

Urging the sheriff to impose an alternative punishment to custody, she said Morgan was a first offender and reports showed he was at “low risk of reoffending.”

In sentencing Morgan, Sheriff Macnair said: “I accept you had a dispute with your former partner but you decided to take matters into your own hands and this was not done in a rush or on the spur of the moment. There was an element of planning, in that you had to provide false documents for money-laundering purposes and you forged your former partner’s signature on a number of documents.

“When relationships break down legal disputes must be settled in an appropriate form, such as through mediation or through the courts. They cannot be solved independently by just one party.

“I take into account you are a first offender but most frauds such as this are committed by first offenders and it is my view there is a requirement to dissuade others who may be tempted to do so.

“Given all of the circumstances, I have reached the conclusion that this is too serious a matter for a non-custodial sentence.”

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