A BUSINESSMAN who forged documents to obtain a £240,000 mortgage in his daughter's name has walked free from court.

Beldav Singh falsified payslips to suggest Sonia Sanghu worked for the family business and earned £60,000 a year.

Singh, 48, of Gobart Court, Darlington then filled out an application - which was signed by his daughter - for a Santander mortgage for a property in the town's Broadmeadows.

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The mortgage was approved in 2011.

David Lamb, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court on Monday that the house was owned by Singh's father - but it was not known what happened to the money from the sale.

The court heard that the defendant's father had built up a successful business in the town but it ran up large debts after Singh took control.

The fraud took place as Singh's financial position became increasing desperate.

No payments were made on the mortgage after April 2013 and it now had arrears of £18,000, Mr Lamb said.

Singh pleaded guilty to making false representations in order to secure a mortgage at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing him to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, Recorder James Brown told the defendant he should be ashamed of himself.

"I found that you put significant moral pressure on your daughter to take part in this.

"This was a well-planned and relatively intricate fraud. You falsified pay slips and other documents to support what was quite obviously a lie.

"You must regard yourself as very fortunate. You could not have complained if this conduct has led to an immediate prison sentence."

Mr Recorder Brown dismissed a suggestion made earlier by Mr Singh that the crime could partly be explained by his cultural background.

"This was fraud pure and simple. £240,000 was secured on your father's property - the whereabouts of this money is not clear.

"A business that your father built up through hard work is now in tatters. There is a significant mess related to debt."

Ms Sangho was initially charged with making false representations in order to secure mortgage but the case was dropped at an earlier hearing because of insufficient evidence.