A man who altered three estate agency valuations used in court as evidence to help lower the value of his home during a divorce has been jailed for seven-and-a-half months.
Anthony Cooke received three valuations for his house on the Isle of Man ranging from £340,000 to £350,000 all from local agents.
But the 50-year-old then lowered the valuations, which took place in 2021, by altering the emails sent to him by each of the agents, later using them as sworn evidence during hearings.
Although the reductions by Cooke were only £5,000 in each case as he sought to make the purchase of his ex-wife’s share of the property more affordable, this was later picked up and during a subsequent hearing at the island’s Courts of Justice, prosecutor Richard Parkes said his actions had “struck at the heart of the administration of justice”, the BBC has reported.
Cooke was rumbled when his former wife rejected a buy-out and insisted it be sold on the open market, requesting copies of the original valuation emails from each agent – which revealed the changes.
He was later reported to the police over the attempt to mislead, although in court his lawyer said he was ‘not thinking rationally’ during the ‘protracted divorce proceedings’.
But the court, which was also told his career as a compliance officer within the finance industry was at risk following a conviction, found him guilty and handed down an ‘immediate sentence’.
In December last year agent Andrew Simmonds of independent Bristol estate agency Parker’s revealed that his firm planned to charge ‘warring couples’ for property valuations such as this.
Images: Google Streetview.