An estate agent has described how she was duped by a fraudster who managed to fool Durham County Council into selling him Windlestone Hall – the birthplace of former Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden – for just £241,000.
Jan Dale, director of Durham agents Urban Base was one of many victims of the lies of William Davenport, who was jailed at Teeside Crown Court for six years in September over a £2.9million fraud dating back to 2012.
The 30-bedroom Grade II listed Windlestone Hall was purchased by William Davenport, 60, in 2012 after he presented himself to Durham Council as a wealthy Beverley Hills-based entrepreneur using false documents.
After securing a £500,000 loan from Barclays he took out further mortgages from the same bank using fake P60s and identity documents
The property was listed by Urban Base for £2.5million in 2014, prompting criticism by the Taxpayers’ Alliance after being sold so cheaply two years prior.
But Davenport was soon caught out after also applying for loans worth £900,000 and a £1.5million mortgage to purchase Ayton Castle in Northumberland when a mortgage clerk spotted a discrepancy in a P60.
In reality he was a wheelchair-bound former bankrupt with many dodgy property deals behind him.
Dale described the experience as an “utter nightmare”, telling the Northern Echo, said: “They had me completely believing every word.
“It now appears another sorry ending for a magnificent historic hall. (It’s) sad for our region’s property market.”