Apprentice star Christopher Farrell pleads guilty to fraud charges

A FORMER contestant in Lord Sugar’s hit The Apprentice admitted committing fraud.

Mortgage broker Christopher Farrell from Wirral pleaded guilty to four charges of false representation when he appeared at Plymouth magistrates court.

He also asked for three further charges to be taken into consideration.

The former Royal Marine , 29, from Arrowe Park Road, Upton, spoke only to confirm his name, age and address and guilty pleas.

The magistrates committed Farrell on bail to Plymouth Crown Court to be sentenced on January 28.

Farrell was originally arrested in August, shortly before the series of the BBC1 show – which finished last Sunday – was broadcast.

Magistrates were told that the mortgage adviser worked for a firm in Plymouth for nearly two years until he was sacked.

Prosecutor David Gittins told the court that Farrell, who earned a salary of £1,600 a month, would earn commission if he made sales of more than £5,000 a month.

Farrell started inflating the incomes of clients to ensure their mortgage applications were successful – thereby hitting his monthly sales target.

He would either alter P60 forms or payslips or create fake documents, unknown to the clients.

The court heard Farrell made three mortgage applications and one re-mortgage application on behalf of his clients – totalling £750,000.

After Farrell was arrested he first tried to blame his colleagues at Mortgages for Plymouth for forging the documents but quickly admitted his guilt.

The court heard there was no actual loss to the mortgage lenders and that Farrell’s clients were continuing to meet their monthly repayments.

Tracey Baker, defending, said the monthly bonus for meeting sales targets amounted to between £300 and £400 and Farrell had never received it.

She added: “He does not accept that he was dismissed and he says he resigned and there is a letter of resignation.

“What he did was not particularly sophisticated and was always likely to be discovered.”

Miss Baker said Farrell carried out the fraud because he was under “pressure” to earn more money to support his family.

Miss Baker said that Farrell had turned to the financial industry after leaving the Royal Marines and had now gone into the security industry but had not worked since September because of the criminal proceedings.

Farrell’s arrest for fraud emerged on the eve of the start of the series of Lord Sugar’s show when it was also revealed that he has a weapons conviction, which he did not disclose to TV producers.

Magistrates were told that Farrell had two previous convictions for possessing an offensive weapon. Farrell appeared before Plymouth Crown Court in September last year – just before filming for The Apprentice started – to admit the two charges..

Police had found an extendable baton and a knuckleduster in his Mercedes after being called to his Plymouth home following allegations he had hit his wife with the knuckleduster.

Judge Francis Gilbert rejected claims the weapons were “trinkets” from his forces days being stored in the car, giving him a two-year conditional discharge but ordering him to pay £847 costs. His wife did not press charges.

A check did not pick up the conviction because it was made in the month before his court appearance.

Farrell, who heard “You’re fired” from Lord Sugar in week eight of the show made a guest appearance on Sunday night’s final when he was part of winner Stella English’s team creating, marketing and selling an alcoholic drink.