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Solicitor jailed for theft from client

A solicitor has been jailed for 26 months after stealing more than £50,000 from an elderly client.

26 March 2012

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Leeds-based Michael Rigg took money from accounts belonging to 84-year-old Jessie Robinson who suffers from dementia. Rigg had known Robinson for more than 30 years and stood to receive half her estate when she died.

However, between September 2007 and June 2011 Rigg began using Robinson’s money after he was granted power of attorney when she went into a care home. Although power of attorney documents allowing him to act on behalf of his client were drawn up correctly, Rigg never registered them.

Mark Foley, representing Rigg, said Rigg could not really explain his actions and had “great difficulty in recognising the enormity and seriousness of what he had done”. Foley said that the money had not been spent on a “profligate lifestyle” and that Rigg had donated some of the money to charity and his church, used some on his own mother’s nursing home fees and payments to other people “in financial need”.

Over three years, Rigg withdrew a total of £51,488.68 from three building society accounts and a post office account. He was arrested in 2011 when staff at Leeds Building Society became suspicious.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud at Leeds Crown Court last month.

Sentencing Rigg to 26 months in prison, Recorder Tahir Khan QC said: “It was against a vulnerable victim and in these circumstances it is difficult to imagine somebody being more vulnerable and in need of protection.

“You were in a position of great responsibility and trust towards Mrs Robinson. Your occupation as a solicitor would have left you with no doubt at all that what you were engaging in was serious dishonesty.”

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Vulnerable Clients