Wayne Larkins, the former England batsman, has been spared a jail sentence after pleading guilty, last November, to deception.

Larkins and his partner, Deborah Lines, attempted to secure a mortgage against the house of her sick father - Robert Adams - but she had forged her father's signature, claiming she and Larkins owned the property. They were then granted a £155,000 mortgage for a house in France and Adams, now 78, only realised the scam on noticing his name had been removed from the deeds.

Judge Graham Hume Jones, of Taunton Crown Court, issued the pair a 12-month suspended sentence, and said: "Deborah Lines and Wayne Larkins, as a result of your dishonest dealings an elderly man has been caused a great deal of distress and the house he has lived in for a number of years has been put on the line.

"Whatever explanation you gave the fact is you were dishonest," he added. "Both of you were in this together. Wayne Larkins, you could have pointed out the error of your partner's ways in dealing with the original mortgage."

Lines and Larkins were ordered to pay back £54,000, an amount frozen in their account since they sold the French property.