"It was a crime that was motivated by desperation and greed"
Madasser Hussain, aged 46, from Fenham, Newcastle, was jailed for three years and nine months at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday, February 22, 2019, for falsifying documents in an attempt to recoup £60,000.
Her husband Agha Rashid, aged 48, of Fenham, was jailed to three years and three months for his role.
Hussain used her legal expertise to forge legal documents following a dispute with the owner of a Newcastle takeaway.
Hussain had invested £60,000 into the Spice of Punjab takeaway in 2002 at which point Rashid started working behind the counter.
In 2008, the manager realised Rashid had mistakenly been overpaid and asked for the extra wages to be repaid.
When the couple refused, owner Mohammed Boota dissolved the business partnership with Hussain as the overpayments matched the original investment.
Lawyer Hussain forged a Land Registry document to lodge a charge of £60,000 on a property belonging to Mr Boota.
Prosecutor Liam O’Brien said:
“The Prosecution case at trial was that rather than resorting to legitimate legal means to settle her partnership dispute Mrs Hussain devised and, with the assistance and encouragement of her husband, deployed an elaborate scheme to seize equity in a property registered in the name of Abdul Rashid but which she believed was actually owned by her rival Mr Boota.
“The scheme involved forging of a CH1 application form and subsequently submitting that form to the Land Registry so as to achieve the fraudulent registration of a legal charge in the sum of £60,000 plus interest at a rate of 10% per annum.”
A number of searches were conducted by Hussain’s law firm. She had exploited her relationship with a junior solicitor to make the fraud more believable.
In January 2014, Mr Boota discovered the charge and its potential value was £115,000.
It is not known how long Hussain and Rashid intended to keep the charge. It could have been used to enforce the sale of the property and recover £60,000 plus interest at a rate of 10% per annum.
He had tried to sell it but the sale was blocked as a result. Mr Boota confronted Hussain about the charge but she refused to lift it.
This was in the hope that it would force Mr Boota to pay back the £60,000. Mr O’Brien said:
“In early 2014, it seems that the defendants became aware of an intention on the part of Mr Boota and or Mr Rashid to sell 12 Heaton Park View.
“The defendants appear from that stage onwards to have taken steps to cover up the fraudulent registration of the charge by way of the deletion of files from a laptop computer belonging to Madasser Hussain.”
He called the police and detectives began investigating. They uncovered bogus Land Registry paperwork and other legal documents that Hussain had forged to cover their tracks.
Both Hussain and Rashid were charged with fraud by false representation and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The court heard that there was some financial loss caused to the Land Registry. They were liable for Mr Boota’s legal costs of £30,000 in challenging the fraudulent charge.
Judge Simon Batiste said: “I’m satisfied this was a sophisticated fraud involving significant planning.
“This was a sophisticated and prolonged act to deceive the authorities into believing the charge was legitimate.”
“Perverting the course of justice is always a serious offence and this is a serious offence of it’s kind.
“In many ways, it’s made worse by the fact you, Hussain, were a solicitor. You abused your skills and training to behave in the way that you did.”
Madasser Hussain was found guilty after a trial and jailed for three years and nine months.
Agha Rashid pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed for three years and three months.
Detective Constable Steve Brown said: “It was a crime that was motivated by desperation and greed after this married couple lost out on their investment in this business.
“Rather than accept that their money was gone, they instead resorted to criminal means to try and extort money from the takeaway owner.”
Following her conviction, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will begin its own investigation into Hussain’s conduct.