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Longest ever trial concludes with two guilty of fraud

17 May 2017

The longest criminal trial ever to take place in the UK concluded yesterday in Glasgow High Court, with a husband and wife being found guilty of fraud in a series of property transactions.

Edwin McLaren was convicted of 29 charges involving about £1.6m in total, and his wife Lorraine of two charges involving £128,000 and a mortgage fraud.

Mr McLaren, who operated through two companies known as Property Solutions and Homesale Solutions, targeted people under financial pressure, placing adverts in newspapers and offering to sort out people's financial difficulties, usually through a loan or leaseback agreement.

His victims thought they were releasing equity from their homes, were induced to sign documents transferring full ownership of their property. McLaren, who also gave false names in his dealings, used friends or family members as transferees. Often people had no idea they had made such transfers until advised by police investigating the transactions.

The scam was implemented betwen April 2008 and November 2012. A two year police inquiry led to a trial beginning in September 2015, in which 320 days of evidence were led with the Crown case alone taking more than a year to present. Three jurors were discharged during the case, leaving the minimum number of 12 allowed to bring a verdict, and trial judge Lord Stewart reached the statutory retiring age of 70 – but was allowed by law to complete hearing a case already begun. The total cost is estimated at £7.5m, including £2.4m in defence legal aid costs.

Sentence was deferred for background reports; Edwin McLaren but was remanded in custody but Lorraine McLaren was released on bail.

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