A North Yorkshire solicitor faked letters to Scarborough Council while trying to win planning permission for his own developments.
Keith Shaw, 37, who was also a deputy district judge, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London this week and was convicted of a number of fraud offences committed between 2012 and 2015.
Shaw, of Sleights, near Whitby, pleaded guilty to the charges in court and was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years. He was ordered to pay £2,747 in compensation and £7,285 in costs. He was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
Shaw was first brought to the attention of North Yorkshire Police when Scarborough Borough Council reported concerns in November 2015. The report from the council indicated that Shaw had attempted to subvert a planning process.
It was found that Shaw had applied for planning permission to develop land at several locations in the Whitby area. It was alleged that he attempted to influence the planning office by submitting numerous correspondence purporting to be from members of the general public in support of his applications. The letters and emails were found to have been submitted by Shaw using the names and addresses of others without their permission. The content of the correspondence was also entirely fictitious.
Shaw also falsely claimed a refund of £2,747 in relation to surveyor’s fees when buying an area of land in Sleights. He had claimed that due to a delay in the sale completing he had been charged for a survey that did not go ahead, which was not the case.
Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, Head of Economic Crime and Major Fraud at North Yorkshire Police, said:
“Keith Shaw is a highly qualified judge who used his enhanced knowledge of the legal system to commit crime and deceive a number of public sector organisations.
“He is a narcissistic individual who thought he could use his position to defraud others for personal gain.
“It is important we catch professionals such as Shaw as it sends a clear message that no-one is above the law.
“This was a particularly complex investigation lasting 18 months and I praise the diligence and professionalism of the investigation team. I also extend my thanks to the many partners and witnesses involved in this case for their support.”