Northern Ireland news

Brother and sister accused of fraud offences in relation to their mother's will

A BROTHER and sister are to stand trial accused of fraud offences in relation to their mother's will.

Jeweller David Malcolm Lauro (50), of Hollybrook Grove, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim and his 43-year-old sister Elaine Alison Diane Lauro, of Lough Moss Park, Carryduff, Co Down, appeared yesterday at Craigavon Crown Court.

Standing side by side in the dock for their arraignment hearing, the pair pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud by false representation.

The charge states that on February 28, 2016, the pair "made a representation to their siblings which they knew was untrue or misleading, namely that their mother Anna Lauro had signed an original will dated December 27, 2015'' in contravention of the Fraud Act 2006.

Elaine Lauro further denied a separate offence she alone faced of using a false instrument with intent under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.

The charge states that on February 25, 2016, she allegedly presented a cheque "which she knew to be false....with the intention of inducing Santander to accept it as genuine...to make a payment of £167,000 to her''.

Judge Donna McColgan QC listed for trial on March 11 this year which is expected to last a week.

A defence barrister told the court that a handwriting expert was being engaged in the case for the defendants.

He made a legal aid application for David Lauro, telling Judge McColgan that he was a jeweller by profession and said there were assets the court might feel could be "realised'' in paying for his defence.

The lawyer said the legal aid application had previously been refused in the magistrates' court on the grounds of his income and assets.

Judge McColgan told the lawyer: "I am refusing the legal aid application.''

The judge added the legal aid application could be moved on the morning of the trial, but warned that if she was the trial judge, she could refuse it again.

A legal aid application on behalf of Elaine Lauro was adjourned until next month when the case is reviewed ahead of the trial.

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