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Chippenham building firm boss Wayne Murfet unsure who submitted building completion documents for ‘unsafe’ Newmarket flats, court told

A building firm boss who is accused of selling incomplete and ‘unsafe’ flats has told a court he was not aware building certificates he allegedly forged had been issued for the homes.

The trial of Wayne Murfet, director of Lors Homes and Murfet (Burrough Green) Ltd, is under way at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.

Murfet, 41, of Rosewood Stud, Chippenham, is accused of 14 counts of fraud plus two counts of making or making or supplying articles for use in fraud, having denied all charges.

Murfet is appearing before Colchester Magistrates’ Court. Picture: Google
Murfet is appearing before Colchester Magistrates’ Court. Picture: Google

This related to 36 false certificates of completion for use in conveyance of flats at 146-148 High Street, Newmarket, plus another for The Paddocks, Brinkley Road, Burrough Green, said to have been issued by West Suffolk Council on August 31, 2018.

These were said to have been issued following legitimate documents for 10 other flats, marking them as safe for human habitation.

Giving evidence today, the father-of-three said he was not handed the certificates himself, nor was he notified that they had been submitted, having discovered them after checking his company’s system.

He told the court that he assumed they were handed to his firm physically by West Suffolk Council’s building control department before being scanned in.

Murfet was quizzed on whether he undertook an investigation once he discovered them.

He said questions were posed to staff, but the person who received the documents and who put them into the system were unidentified.

Murfet admitted under oath there was no security on the computers, which meant anyone could have accessed the system. There was also no CCTV on site, he said.

Concerns over fire safety at the Newmarket development have been raised during the trial.

Murfet was asked if he was surprised to see certificates issued due to these ongoing concerns.

He said: “I wasn't surprised, I was the one to highlight any fire issues with building control due to Grenfell.

“I believe we were complying with all fire regulations, working hard with Rob [from West Suffolk Council’s building control].”

Murfet said the Newmarket development was the brainchild of his father, best known as Ricky, who died in December 2017.

The pair founded Lors Home in 2012 and were co-directors.

Murfet told the court he and his father sought to buy the building, the former De Niro’s nightclub, when it went on the market in 2014.

The entire project was made possible through bank funding, with Lors Homes borrowing money, the court was told.

Planning permission for the site was granted in 2015 and work began in 2016, Murfet said.

He said he worked closely with Robert Fysh, from West Suffolk Council’s building control department.

Murfet told the court he had assumed that Mr Fysh was the one to submit the certificates.

It was during a meeting on September 23, relating to a complaint from Robyn Phillips, a resident of flat 25 following a water leak, where Murfet told Mr Fysh he thought he had signed the building off.

Judge Emma Nash quizzed Murfet, asking how he knew the certificates were submitted by Mr Fysh.

He said: “They must have come from him.

“I said to him: ‘you issued them, Rob.”

When asked how Mr Fysh responded, Murfet said: “He didn’t say anything except that we needed to get the building sold.”

He clarified that he felt it was either Mr Fysh or someone else from West Suffolk Council.

Murfet told the court that issues with fire safety, including compartmentalisation and fire stoppage, had been laid out in the planning documents.

Andrew Copeland, prosecuting, argued that Murfet himself forged the building completion documents to allow him to sell the flats.

Last week, Mr Copeland said Murfet ‘cut corners and put lives at risk for profit’ when he sold off the flats.

The prosecution’s case can be read here.

Regarding the 16 charges, Murfet and Lors Homes Ltd previously denied fraud by failing to disclose to the purchasers of six flats that building works had not been certified as complete by the building control department at West Suffolk Council.

Murfet also denied providing a false certificate of completion of building works, intending it would be relied upon during the conveyancing of a house at The Paddocks, Brinkley Road, Burrough Green, Newmarket.

Murfet, alongside Murfet (Burrough Green) Ltd, denied failing to disclose to the purchaser of a plot at Brinkley Road, Burrough Green, Newmarket, that building works at the property had not been certified as complete by the building control department of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

The trial continues.