Kent

Ashford Conservative council candidate jailed for electoral fraud

A Kent landlord who stood as a Conservative councillor in a local election has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for electoral fraud.

Cencizham Cerit, 47, of Primrose Drive, Ashford, was found guilty of forging the signatures of his tenants to try and win an election in November 2011.

He stood for a seat in the Beaver ward, on Ashford Borough Council, but lost.

Canterbury Crown Court heard Cerit delivered 200 postal vote applications to the council with forged signatures.

The landlord, who owns more than 60 properties in the Ashford area, lost the election by 87 votes and may have won had the applications been accepted as genuine.

He was also found guilty of submitting his nomination paper knowing it contained false signatures.

'Disregard for democracy'

Police said returning officers became suspicious after the applications did not match up to council or electoral roll records.

Subsequent searches of both his home and a fast food takeaway business he owned in Ashford revealed copies of forged documents.

Det Con Stuart Champion said: "This is a man who was determined to get involved in local politics at whatever cost but his disregard for the British voting system and democracy caught up with him, thankfully before he ever got into public office.

"I'm pleased with today's sentence and hope it sends a warning to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated."

Cerit had denied two counts of using false instrument and one count of causing or committing a false statement to appear in a nomination paper.

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