Law graduate forged judges signatures

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A LAW graduate-turned-fraudster who forged the signatures of Sheffield Crown Court judges in a bid to access his frozen assets has had his sentence cut on appeal.

Numvi Divine, aged 37, of Edmund Road, Highfield, was jailed for five and a half years at Sheffield Crown Court last September but got it reduced to four years on appeal.

He was jailed after admitting possessing criminal property, eight counts of making or supplying items for use in fraud and perverting the course of justice.

While on the run from police after committing various “sophisticated” frauds, Divine faxed documents to the Royal Bank of Scotland containing the forged signatures of two Sheffield judges.

Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting at London’s Appeal Court, said Divine’s dishonesty first came to light when officers stopped his car near Meadowhall in July 2008.

They suspected he was driving while disqualified.

Divine escaped from the back of a police car but was later apprehended and his car and home were searched. Officers found £6,980 in cash and dozens of forged letters which he had used to gain places on university courses and student bank loans.

They included fake letters purporting to be from the University of Sheffield admissions office, allegedly offering him a place on an MA Law course, which he used to obtain a student loan of £23,000 from a bank.

The court heard he had studied for an MA in Law at the university some years earlier.

The letters were “copies” of a genuine acceptance letter.

But in order to gain access to the course initially, he had used a forged letter from the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, allegedly offering him an unpaid work placement.

Officers also found a University of Sheffield letterhead cut out and pasted on to blank paper.

Divine had used this as a template to create forged letters.

His accounts were frozen by Sheffield Crown Court after an investigation revealed he had used £20,000 of the HSBC bank loan and used other faked documents to open a business account with Abbey National, which he used to run up an unauthorised overdraft of £27,500.

Divine later failed to answer his bail and went on the run.

But his past offending caught up with him in February last year, when the Royal Bank of Scotland told police they had received two faxes with the forged signatures of Judge Michael Murphy QC and Judge Roger Keen QC.

These were an attempt to remove Sheffield Crown Court’s restraining order.

Divine’s lawyers won his appeal when they claimed the judge who jailed him had not taken enough account of guidelines or the total effect of the sentence.

They added Divine would repay £18,600 to HSBC for the loan following a proceeds of crime hearing.