ByStuart Greer 14:35, 8 APR 2016
A solicitor who stole more than £370,000 from an elderly client who had left it to charity has been jailed for three years.
Peter Philip Taylor, 65, took the money from Mary Wallace after he was granted sole power of attorney for her finances.
Taylor, a partner of solicitor firm Nightingales in Poynton, used the money to pay off his mortgage and make improvements to his home.
He stole cash using a bank card, wrote cheques out to himself, sold her AstraZeneca shares and put some in his own name.
Taylor, a coach at Alderley Edge Hockey Club, spent a third of Mrs Wallace’s £1m estate which had been left to the Salvation Army, Alzheimer’s Society and the Animal Defence League, when she died in 2014.
He also stole £7,798 from another client, Doreen Gleave, who died in 2012, by selling her shares.
At Chester Crown Court on April 4, Taylor, of Ascot Close, Congleton, admitted two charges of theft and four charges of fraud.
Sentencing Judge Nicholas Woodward said: “You were a solicitor for your entire working life and as sole power of attorney had a high degree of trust.
“Your actions have had a devastating effect on you and those who care for you, benefactors, including charities, suffered substantial losses, you betrayed and stained your colleagues and dishonesty undermined the reputation of your whole profession.”
Simon Minz, prosecuting, said: “From August 2014 the defendant took from Mrs Wallace, £188,000 from the cash points, £53,000 using the debit card, £130,000 in cheques and £7,000 in AstraZeneca shares.
“He attempted to hide his fraud by hiding share documents and having Mrs Wallace’s bank statements sent to his home address.“Suspicions arose when he refused to hand over the probate file to her will’s executor.
“His secretary found copies of the AstraZeneca shares in his desk, and a copy of a bank statement with his address.
“She alerted the other partners who confronted him.”
The court heard that Taylor fled to Brighton where he was talked out of committing suicide by his family. Joanna Rodiki defending Taylor, said: “He let pride, temptation and greed get in the way. He is horrified by his actions and the effect it had on everyone.”