A husband and wife have been found guilty of fraud after the longest trial in UK criminal history.
Edwin McLaren, from Quarriers Village in Renfrewshire, was found guilty of property fraud totalling about £1.6m.
The 52-year-old, who was said to be the “brains behind the scheme”, was convicted of 29 charges and his wife Lorraine of two.
The trial at the High Court in Glasgow began in September 2015 and heard evidence for 320 days.
It is thought to have cost about £7.5m, with more than £2.4m in legal aid paid for defence lawyers.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said the amount of evidence in the case meant that it took Crown prosecutors more than a year to present their case to the court, which is “unprecedented”.
Over the course of the past 20 months, the jury has reduced from the original 15 for a Scottish criminal trial to 12, the lowest number it can operate on.
During the trial the court had to halt for three weeks after one juror got married, while others were off sick or took holidays.
The frauds came to light when a woman in Fife claimed she had not been paid the full amount that she was promised for the sale of her house in Cowdenbeath.
During a two-year police inquiry, 48 properties were investigated under a property fraud scheme where the owner’s title deeds were transferred without their knowledge. Twenty-nine cases made it on to the indictment in court, involving properties throughout Scotland.
The frauds were said to have taken place between April 2008 and November 2012.
The case was described by police “one of the largest, most complicated property fraud investigations ever carried out in Scotland”.
More than 200 officers were involved in piecing together the crimes which involved mortgage fraud, property fraud and money laundering.
The operation was run by Edwin McLaren who targeted people under financial pressure, often after placing adverts in newspapers for two companies – Property Solutions and Homesale Solutions.
The 52-year-old lived an extravagant lifestyle in the upmarket enclave of Quarriers Village.
He would holiday in Dubai and had a yellow Bentley. His house was worth more than £700,000.
McLaren had worked as a financial adviser and had the background knowledge to put the scheme together.
His assets have been restrained under the proceeds of crime act.
He was said to have shown no sign of remorse.
He claimed that he was helping people who had nowhere else to turn and has been quoted as saying he was their friend and saviour.