The man accused of selling a five-bedroom house on the Isle of Man is facing a £250,000 court-ordered fine after he was caught selling the property for £25 to a farmer’s insurance agent.
Jonathan Roberts, from Croydon, was charged with four counts of fraudulent conduct and a further six counts of fraud.
The charges relate to the sale of the house in August 2015 for £45,000, which Mr Roberts had promised the buyer to buy and had promised him would be his new home.
The case was heard in Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday.
A neighbour of Mr Roberts who did not want to be named told the BBC he bought the house for £1.2 million from Mr Roberts in July 2014.
He told the programme he thought it was a nice, modest house and was “excited” when he first saw it.
The house, which has been owned by Mr Roberts since 2013, was worth £1,800,000 when it was purchased.
The buyer told the court he did not know who Mr Roberts was or what he did for a living.
“I was shocked to find out that he is actually a farmer and I thought it would be a nice little house, but then I was told the buyer wanted £250k for it,” he said.
The court heard that Mr Roberts “is also the owner of the other house on that same block, which was bought by the same buyer in August 2014”.
The neighbour said that while the buyer was buying the house, he “did not see any damage”.
“I went to get the car keys, the window panes and the locks, but the door was stuck in the lock,” he added.
“They all fell off the hinges and when I went to put them back in they were still hanging on there.”
The court was told that Mr Robertson told the neighbour he was a farmer but he did work in insurance.
He said he “didn’t know what he was doing” when the house was purchased and that “he was not paying for it, was not making any money, but he had the title”.
The court also heard that the buyer paid a “bargain price” of £5,000 for the house.
“He said he did so on the condition that he would be paying the full price,” the neighbour added.
Mr Roberts, a 38-year-old from Cripplegate, south-east London, appeared in court on Wednesday to answer the charges.
He was granted bail at a later date.
Mr Robertson, who previously worked as a security guard, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is due to appear in Norwich Magistrates Court on March 17.
The property was sold to a woman from Suffolk, and the buyer did not receive a copy of the deed.
The neighbour told the documentary that he bought it in August of 2014 and that he was excited to buy it, adding that the property “was a nice place to live”.
The house was bought for £4.9 million in 2012 and Mr Roberts has not been seen since.
Mr Justice David Hock said that “as a former police officer, the defendant has made some serious mistakes” and added that “this case is not about the money”.
“He has been dishonest in dealing with his insurer, and his behaviour with respect to the other property was also dishonest,” the judge said.
“However, the main offence is that of fraud in relation to the purchase of a house.”
He said that he did think that the man had “some sort of remorse for what he has done, and is certainly looking forward to a speedy trial.”
The trial is expected to last for a week.
A spokesman for the Isle Of Man’s Land Registry said that the insurance company had “been made aware” of the charges in July and that the court had referred the matter to the Land Registry.