it's a mystery: the white line in the High Street
CONMAN Darrell Keen remort- gaged his parent's home to raise £55,000 which he spent on a luxury lifestyle.
Keen forged his father's signature to remortgage the family home in the Cotswolds – then spent the surplus cash in four months, Gloucester crown court heard.
The 26-year-old didn't turn up for his trial in Cirencester, but his parents Graham and Rachel Keen were both there to give evidence against him and he was convicted in his absence.
Judge Martin Picton issued a warrant for Keen's arrest and said he would pass sentence on him on June 1 whether he has been found by then or not.
A jury of seven men and five women took 25 minutes to convict Keen of forging the mortgage application and using a false instrument with intent.
Crown Prosecutor Lisa Hennessy had told the jury that, at the time of the offences, Keen was living with his parents and a lodger in Field Lane, Willersey, near Broadway.
Keen switched his father's mortgage from the Kensington Mortgage company to GE Money, raising an extra £55,000 in the process, she said.
In June last year, Mr Keen started to realise what had happened when he got a letter from the new mortgage company stating that the repay- ments were not being made.
The next day he was shocked to receive a notice of summons to attend court about the arrears.
Further enquiries revealed the original mortgage application to GE Money was signed and dated November 20, 2007, the jury were told.
Mr Keen had never seen this and had not signed it, the court heard.
"The Crown says the person who signed his name accepting the terms of the new mortgage was Darrell Keen.
"In other words, he forged his father's signature," said Mrs Hennessy.
Darrell Keen's fingerprints were found on the mortgage documents, showing he had handled them.
The money went into his father's bank account, to which Keen had access, and it took the son just over four months to get through the £55,000, she said. The money entered his account in December 2007 and the account was overdrawn by March 2008.
"From then on the monthly standing order for the mortgage was returned unpaid every month," Mrs Hennessy said.
She added that it didn't take long before the arrears mounted up and his parents' home became threat- ened.
Keen had spent the money on "the trappings of a luxury lifestyle – a flat, rented car, clothes and restaurants," Mrs Hennessy said.
Keen had denied forgery – that between October 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007, he made a false instrument – namely the mortgage application form.
He also pleaded not guilty to using a false instrument with intent between the same dates – the same mortgage application document.
In evidence, Rachel Keen, an administrator, said she had given consent for her son to use a bank account in her husband's name in 2007 after her son couldn't get an account and she had thought it would be "safe". It was a bank account that was not greatly used by the couple.
Later she added: "We can't keep track of Darrell."
After the guilty verdict on both counts, Judge Martin Picton heard Keen had previous similar convic- tions for obtaining by deception and identity theft.
The court heard he had previously been sentenced to four months but that was increased to six months after it was discovered that mitig- ation about him being a professional rugby player was untrue.
Judge Picton said the latest offence was "akin to a breach of trust case" and that he had breached the trust of his parents.
After the trial, Rachel, 56, said: "We love our son to bits and he's not a bad lad.
"I just think he's been caught in this fraudulent thing and hasn't got out of it."