South Scotland

Walkerburn squatter's cottage sale bid ends in failure

Kirnie Cottage
Image caption The court was told the squatter's bid to sell Kirnie Cottage was "doomed to failure"

A court has heard how a squatter tried to sell a cottage in the Scottish Borders for £70,000 without the knowledge of the owner.

Ewan Turner, 36, moved into two-bedroomed Kirnie Cottage in Walkerburn when he noticed it was vacant.

He then tried to cash in by pretending to be the owner and convincing an estate agent to put it on the market.

Selkirk Sheriff Court was told the attempt was "doomed to failure". Sentence was deferred until December.

The offence happened after the property's owner died last year and left the cottage to a beneficiary.

At that point Turner, who was already a squatter in the building, hatched his plan to sell it.

Image caption Selkirk Sheriff Court heard the owner called police when a "For Sale" sign appeared in the garden

His lawyer Greg McDonnel said the scheme was bound to fail.

He told the court: "The moment he contacted any solicitor in respect of an offer, it would be discovered the property would not be in his name.

"When an offer was made he took the property off the market and tried to let it out instead."

Turner admitted a charge of pretending to be the owner of the cottage between March and May 2011 and attempting to induce someone to sell it on his behalf and get the proceeds by fraud.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser told the court Turner had been squatting in the property for nine months when he decided to try and sell it.

He was able to convince an estate agent to put it on the market by providing a council tax bill, an energy bill and correspondence from Scottish Water with his name on it.

Turner, of Abbotsford Road, Galashiels, claimed the place was lying derelict when he first spotted it and had spent £8,000 on it making it liveable putting in new flooring, electrics and doors.

He was also paying the energy bills for the cottage.

But his plan to sell the property fell apart when the will beneficiary saw a "For Sale" sign in the garden and contacted police.

Sheriff Kevin Drummond, who noted Turner had a previous conviction for fraud, described the plan to sell the house as "fantasy".

He deferred sentence until 17 December for background reports.

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