A CLAIM to ownership of a North Oxford home worth more than £1m has been thrown out by a judge who ruled the deed was fraudulent.

Abbey Folami said he bought the seven-bedroom house in 2007 and was trying to evict the tenants.


Abbey Folami

But the bid for 17 Warnborough Road was dismissed yesterday in a judgement handed down at Oxford County Court.

Phil Brown – a tenant since 1987 – last night said after seven years of litigation they had succeeded in dealing Folami a “knockout blow”.

He said: “Justice has been done.”

But he said he wanted to see those responsible for the fraud brought to justice.


Tenant Phil Brown

The home was sold to Chief Obasola Atobala for £15,000 in 1977 by St John’s College and it was managed and rent collected by an Oxford landlord before Mr Atobala died in 1989.

Mr Folami, who did not attend yesterday’s hearing, claimed he later legally bought the house in 2007 for £108,000.

His name was listed as the property owner on the land registry but Recorder Alastair Wilson yesterday ordered the property to be transferred back to the chief’s estate.

At the end of his 43-page judgement, he dismissed Mr Folami’s claim and ordered the land registry be changed to show property ownership transfers in 1987 and to Mr Folami in 2007 were fraudulent.

Now tenants Mr Brown and Kieron Halstead – who have been backed by Headington property developer Martin Young – are to continue their legal fight.


Kieron Halstead

Mr Brown has argued he should be classed as the owner on the grounds of ‘adverse possession’ – where someone in possession of a property for 12 years can claim ownership.

Mr Young said yesterday that the legal battle had been stressful for the tenants.

He said: “It is not nice to be under threat.

“It is very draining – all the effort you have to put in. It is effort for me but effort plus anguish for them because it is their home that is at stake.”

He said he would also apply to recover more than £100,000 in costs he had spent bankrolling the case.


Property developer Martin Young

The 69-year-old also said he would get some reward for taking on the legal costs, but said: “Justice is important. If I could afford it I would have done for that reason.

“As it happens we have nothing set in stone but we have an understanding that support will be rewarding at the end of the day if we get what we want.”

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