A SOLICITOR was sentenced in Belfast Crown Court this week for his part in a £375,000 swindle highlighted in SUNDAY WORLD over the past five years.
Herbert "Bertie" Wright (46) of Grand Prix Park, Dundonald was sentenced to 18 month's jail, suspended for a year, when he admitted dishonestly obtaining £375,000 from Ryland Vehicle Group Ltd by falsely representing that Neville Johnston (Garages) Ltd had a good and marketable title to property at 60/65 Smithfield Square in Befast.
It was the latest move in a bizarre saga which centred round the crooked property dealings of Charlie Gilpin - the Ballymana born-again Christian millionaire who died in 1983 leaving behind a tangled web of corrupt financial dealings which robbed a Belfast family of a fortune.
Leading the long compaign for justice and recovery of the missing fortune is Eileen Wright, daughter of wealthy Belfast businessman and motor-dealer Frederick Andrews who died in 1972.
Mrs Wright has claimed through the SUNDAY WORLD for several years that Gilpin, a former business associate of her father, swindled her brother Freddie out of his inheritance.
Gilpin forced the sale of Andrews Motors in Smithfield to Neville Johnston Garages of which he was a director.
Billy Andrews, a son of the late Frederick Andrews, owned the business after his father's death and claimed he had a nervous breakdown because of continual harassment by Gilpin to sell.
His brother Freddie owned the land from which the business traded and received £25,000 for it. Later it was sold by Neville Johnston Garages for more than 10 times that amount.
Bertie Wright, acting with Gilpin, handled the sale which landed him in court this week. Wright had his certificate to practice as a solicitor removed by the Law Society four years ago.
After this week's court case Eileen Wright said: "I expected Bertie Wright to get a more severe sentence in view of the amount of money involved. I have been told by the RUC fraud squad this week that police inquiries are still going on into other aspects of this case."
She claimed her brother Freddie was living in poverty - "depending on charity from members of his family despite the fact there is almost a £2 million fortune somewhere belongng to him."
Eileen Wright said: "This case is not over by any means. The family want to know exactly where this money is and what has happened to city centre property Freddie inherited from my late father."
Unionist MP Roy Beggs who has supported the Andrews' family campaign said yesterday that in view of the court decision this weekhe was considering demanding a Judicial Review into other aspects of the case - through the House of Commons if necessary.
Mr Beggs: "This is the first breakthrough in more than 10 years and vindicates the stand taken by the Andrews family and the careful research carried out by the late Det. Const. Mervyn Patteson".
The death of Mervyn Patterson who investigated the Andrews case when he was an officer in the RUC Fraud Squad is one of the most intriguing aspects of the affair.
For after complaining about aspects of fraud investigations in letters to both the Chief Constable and SUNDAY WORLD in which he threatened suicide, Det. Const. Patterson was later found shot dead near his home on the Belfast loughshore at Greenisland.
Friends of the dead polieman, claimed publicly he had been murdered, pointing to the fact his hands were tied and no gun was ever recovered.
But an inquest later found the officer had staged an elaborate suicide made to look like murder while mentally unbalanced.