A YOUNG woman doctor found strangled at her flat on Boxing Day was the

victim of an attempted mortgage fraud, it was disclosed yesterday.

Ms Joan Francisco, 27, was discovered by police at the foot of a

flight of stairs at her basement flat in St John's Wood, north London.

Scotland Yard confirmed last night that it would be interviewing a man

convicted of attempting to cheat the St Lucian-born gynaecologist out of

thousands of pounds.

He was eventually fined #10,000 at Knightsbridge Crown Court in

October for attempting to use her name on a fraudulent mortgage


A spokesman said: ''We are aware of Ms Francisco's involvement in this

case and it is one line of inquiry we are investigating. He will be

spoken to along with other witnesses.''

Journalists at the Hampstead and Highgate weekly newspaper in north

London, who reported the court case, said the doctor telephoned their

office to try to prevent her name being mentioned in a report of the


Police yesterday were still searching the two floors occupied by Dr

Francisco at the four-storey Georgian building, in Ordnance Hill, a

quiet tree-lined road in an exclusive area. They also launched

house-to-house inquiries.

Dr Francisco's possesions were disturbed and the rear door left ajar,

officers said. However, they refused to confirm reports that the killing

was the result of a bungled burglary.

The woman's body was discovered fully-clothed and police said there

was nothing to suggest a sexual motive.

Officers began interviewing Dr Francisco's neighbours and work

colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where she trained

and worked as a locum for six months this year.

Dr Francisco was due to join the staff at the Royal London Hospital in

Whitechapel, east London, after a Christmas reunion with her sisters,

Margaret and Celia, in Los Angeles.

However, her mother, Venus, raised the alarm after she failed to turn

up as arranged before travelling to the airport for a Boxing Day flight

at Heathrow airport. The two women flew to London yesterday to join her

mother at her home in Acton, west London.