Woman Sentenced in London Architecture Fraud
A woman was sentenced last week after being convicted of falsifying documents to the Architects Registration Board, in London.
Leopoldine Van Daalen, 40, was handed a 15-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to complete 130 hours of community work on Sept. 13. The sentencing came about a month after she was found guilty of four offenses under the Fraud Act 2006 by Southwark Crown Court.
Sentencing judge Recorder Bernard Weatherill QC called the case a serious matter.
“These sort of cases are not brought lightly,” he said. “They are brought because there is a public interest in maintaining high standards of professional qualification and protecting the public from those who pretend to be qualified. It is a serious matter to set out to deceive ARB and UCAS that you are on the way to qualifying when you are not. If ARB had not been vigilant, you would have got further along the way.”
According to Court News UK, Van Daalen first approached the board in 2013, telling them she had qualifications from France, but was told she was ineligible.
Then, she tried to join the ARB in July 2015, when she applied to take the Part Two exam in an effort to remedy her ineligibility. However, in order to be eligible for Part Two, she would need the Part One qualification and a post-graduate qualification of at least two years, which she did not have.
In September 2015, she applied again by submitting a forged copy of a certificate saying that she had graduated with an architecture degree from the University of East London in July 2012, along with a reference the claimed to be from Allies and Morrison. (Later, an investigation would reveal that there was no record of the architects she claimed to work with at the firm.)
When the board looked into her time at UEL, it found a falsehood in her Universities and Colleges Admissions Service application, which stated that she had completed two years in Architecture at London Metropolitan University.
Not only had she not passed her second year there, but the board also found that she had forged a reference from an LMU architecture professor, Maurice Mitchell. When Mitchell was asked about Van Daalen, he said he had remembered teaching her but did not give the reference, noting his misspelled name.
In the trial, the prosecutor, Andrew Johnson, accused Van Daalen of engaging “in a concerted and dishonest attempt to advance through the registration process without having the requisite qualifications and having not gained the requisite experience.”
Van Daalen’s defense maintained that her boyfriend “interfered with her files” and claimed that she genuinely believed that she had graduated and had the necessary qualifications at the time she applied to the ARB. She also claimed to believe that her reference letters were real.
Defense attorney Andrew Hallworth had argued that Van Daalen shouldn’t be convicted over “semantics” and that she misunderstood her graduate status.
She was convicted on the four counts of fraud and, at the sentencing, Weatherill noted that if she had gotten through and actually practiced as an architect her punishment would’ve been much more severe.
“I am satisfied it was nipped in the bud so as little damage was actually done to the public views as to architects’ qualifications was done as was possible,” he said. “Do not re-offend or you will be brought back to this Court and re-sentenced.”