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Former Dundee bank boss duped butcher tycoon and forged wife’s signature to pay off £193k debt

David Cowper.
David Cowper.

A former Tayside bank manager forged his wife’s signature on a house title deeds transfer document to pay off debts of almost £200,000.

David Cowper, 73, duped a legal firm in Perth and the person who had loaned him the money – butcher tycoon Simon Howie – by forging his wife’s signature on a disposition without telling her.

Cowper, a first offender, had taken early retirement from his bank job and had worked as a company director for Mr Howie’s business.

The boss of the Dunning-based firm loaned Cowper the cash over a period of seven years.

He admitted his guilt when interviewed by police after a solicitor with the Land Register informed the police.

The total figure agreed in settlement of the debt was £193,338.95, Dundee Sheriff Court was told.

Depute fiscal Marie Irvine told the court David and Helen Cowper had lived on Blackness Road in Dundee for 20 years.

She said: “The accused was formerly a bank manager with the Royal Bank of Scotland and during the course of his employment he dealt with the business banking of Simon Howie.

“He took early retirement and thereafter began working for Mr Howie and, in 2007, approached Mr Howie seeking to borrow money to assist in buying a house for his daughter.

“Mr Howie agreed to this on the basis that the accused sold his house the following year. The accused said he and his wife were looking to downsize. The loan was for £29,458.75.

“Over the next six years the accused borrowed further amounts of money. The accused repaid £10,102.02.”

In November 2014, she said, Mr Howie put pressure on the accused to repay the debt at which point the accused agreed to transfer the deeds of his house to him on agreement that he and his wife could stay there until it was sold.

The fiscal said that during December 2014, the accused handed a disposition to Thorntons Solicitors bearing three signatures, one purporting to be that of Helen Cowper, one being the accused and another that of an independent witness and the transfer of title deeds went to the Land Register.

Mrs Cowper later discovered they were £60,000 in debt and the marriage was over.

In early 2016, she decided to make a will and saw the title deeds to the house were in the name of Simon Howie and that her signature had been forged.

The accused confirmed to her and to Mr Howie that he had done it.

Solicitor Jim Laverty told the court his client had paid Mr Howie his half of the profits – £140,000 – from the sale of the house plus £10,000 in cash. The other half had gone to Mrs Cowper.

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael deferred sentence on Cowper until October 26 for reports.

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