A CONSTRUCTION consultant who supplied a fake building warrant to a Dunfermline man has been sent to jail.

Sheriff James Macdonald told Derek McCafferty that he was a "thoroughly dishonest man" before giving him a six-month sentence for his second fraud offence within five years.

His solicitor, Russel McPhate, said the offences had been a result of a gambling addiction, adding that his client's life had been "a mess" at the time.

Appearing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Wednesday, McCafferty, 47, of Malcolm Street, had previously admitted that between December 23, 2016, and September 7, 2017, both dates inclusive, at Cedar Grove and elsewhere, he uttered as genuine a building warrant and completion certificate for a building extension.

During his last appearance in the dock, the court heard that McCafferty ran his own construction consultancy business, Draft 4 Design.

He was hired to do work for a homeowner who wanted to extend his house in Dunfermline.

Work was progressing as planned and the homeowner asked about the building warrant.

McCafferty supplied one but it turned out to be bogus.

The building standards department was later notified that the extension was completed and it was only at that stage it emerged there was no building warrant for the project.

When checks were carried out on the warrant McCafferty had supplied, it was seen that the reference number matched with one given to him previously for a property in Newburgh.

The homeowner estimated it had cost him £4,500 to put matters right with the authorities.

Solicitor Mr McPhate said his client had a gambling addiction which he had struggled with for some time.

"His life was frankly a mess," he told the court. "He was in a lot of debt and had other issues.

"He was not in a good place as far as work. He was advised to apply for planning permission. He had told them to apply for a building warrant. He said builders very often had their own people who deal with that.

"The complainer instructed the builder and the builder didn't mention the building warrant until he had started the work. At that point, the complainer contacted Mr McCafferty. He panicked. He thought, 'This must be my fault, my work is a mess and I have to deal with this.'

"He has managed to move on and he has sought appropriate help through Gamblers Anonymous.

"Given that he has sought to deal with the issue that gave rise to the offending behaviour, he has not committed any further offences over the last three or four years and he has shown a great deal of remorse."

Sheriff James Macdonald said the offence included a "significant" breach of trust.

"You were a professional person," he said. "As a result of being engaged to provide professional services and as a result of things that ought to be done routinely as part of your job, the complainer sustained a four-figure loss.

"The public are entitled to expect better of professionals. One offence including dishonesty for a professional person is bad enough but the fact this is your second occasion within five years is really quite disgraceful.

"On the last last occasion – in respect of an offence which had been broadly analogous – you received the maximum sentence available. The sentence didn't deter you. It is clear to me that I require to impose a sentence which not only deters you from further offending but also reflects the gravity of your conduct, in particular, the breach of trust.

"I have reached the conclusion, with regret, that there is no other way of dealing with you appropriately other than a sentence of imprisonment."