A surgeon accused of a making a £180,000 fraudulent insurance claim was “pushing” to get an advance on his mortgage, a jury heard.
Anthony McGrath wanted to secure a further advance on the £824,000 loan for the home he and his GP wife Anne-Louise were renovating in St Albans.
The Irish couple are said to have made three mortgages applications between 2012 and 2015 that were supported by forged documentation about their employment and earning potential.
Malcolm Rose, who is in charge of mortgage advisors at Lloyds Bank in Hertfordshire, told Luton crown court he had been contacted by Anthony McGrath who said he had lost confidence in his advisor at the bank.
He told the jury of nine men and three women that the surgeon had wanted to borrow another £150,000 in January 2014 for renovations on the 7-bed property at Clarence Road in St Albans.
Mr Rose said: “Our underwriters agreed the money could be lent, but when we came to value (the property at) Clarence Road it had nil value. The work being done meant it was not in a habitable condition.”
When the work was finished, the house valuation would be £1.9 million, he said.
He said the bank’s private banking department were happy to look at raising the money because they could borrow from outside the bank.
Mr Rose said: “Anthony McGrath was pushing to see if we could loan the money.”
Tyrone Smith QC, for Mr McGrath, asked Mr Rose if the surgeon told him he sold antiques and that could qualify as income on the mortgage application. “I don’t recall that conversation,” he said.
Asked if Mr McGrath had said he could increase his income by dealing in antiques. He replied: “Never”
The prosecution allege that to raise funds, lies and outright forgeries were made on mortgage applications.
£800,000 and then £135,000 loans were made on the 7-bed Clarence Road address and a further £85,000 was raised when a buy-to-let mortgage was obtained on a previously un-mortgaged property in Somerton Close, Belfast. This had been the home of Anne-Louise McGrath’s mother.
Prosecutor Charlene Sumnall alleged, at the start of the case, that the couple, who were married in 2009, were “up to their necks in debt.”
Mr McGrath is alleged to have claimed that on 15 April 2015 valuable antiques, jewellery and a 19th century marble fireplace had been taken in a £180,000 burglary at The Garden Bothy – a £2,400 a month cottage they were renting on the Luton Hoo stately home estate while their St Albans home was being renovated.
When Bedfordshire police and the The Garda went to Somerville House in Co Meath in Ireland on 26 November 2015 they are said to have found a red 19th century fireplace that had been reported stolen in the burglary.
Before the reported burglary, Mr McGrath was trying to raise funds by selling off antiques. He allegedly told the owner of one antique business he was trying to raise money to build a child refuge in Syria.
But prosecutor Ms Sumnall told the jury: “This was all a lie. Anthony McGrath was trying to raise as much money as possible in early 2015, not for the children of Syria, but to alleviate the significant financial pressure facing him and his wife. ”
Despite the money troubles, Anthony McGrath spent £50000 on a Maserati, later telling the police he was “not particularly good with money.”
Ms Sumnall said: “In a nutshell, this case is about greed.”
Anne-Louise McGrath is also is alleged to have dishonestly failed to inform insurers that she was in possession of a pair of sapphire diamond earrings and a sapphire diamond ring that her husband had reported as stolen following the alleged burglary.
She is said to have provided the earrings and ring to an auctioneer in order for them to be sold, as a result of which she received thousands of pounds from the sale of the earrings. She did this despite knowing that the items were the subject of an insurance claim and a criminal investigation, said the prosecutor.
45-year-old Anthony McGrath denies four charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of public justice.
Anne-Louise, 44, denies five charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of public justice.