Cautionary tale of the £600k, six year spending spree

A solicitor who stole more than £600,000 from elderly clients to fund a secret spending binge on prostitutes and adult chatlines, has been jailed for four years.

A well respected figure in the suburb of Cheadle, Greater Manchester: solicitor, Andrew Taylor, 57, was treasurer of the local cricket club, chairman of the civic society judo club and a committee member for the village hall and traders’ association. However, unbeknown to locals, Taylor secretly plundered the accounts of 13 of his own clients aged between 67 and 100 for whom he held power of attorney.

Taylor himself specialised in wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney (LPA) and had gained considerable trust, running his practice since 1990. He had been ‘reasonably successful’ and accounts showed the firm had made a profit of £164,000 the previous year. So why did he embark on a devious and calculated mission to fleece his clients of their hard earned savings?

During the trial at Manchester Crown Court, jurors heard that as part of his ‘compulsive, addictive and obsessive shopping’ habits, he gave one call girl alone £30,000 then made more than 808 payments over a period of two years totalling over £100,000 on explicit adult chat and webcam services.

During investigations, police found he had kept the names of all the escorts he had used on his mobile phone and paid them a total of almost £80,000 over a three-month period. Another £85,000 was squandered via eBay, through which Taylor purchased pens, pottery and cricket memorabilia. A shocking sum would you agree?

Andrew MacIntosh, prosecuting, said: “He said in 2010 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and that at around the same time his son had had a breakdown and had to be taken out of university. He said that this and the pressure he was under at work and his medication caused him to behave in the way that he did.”

The court heard Taylor’s vulnerable victims had suffered with dementia or resided in care homes and were cheated out of sums of between £1,200 and £400,000.

One woman of 87 who lived in a care home died after her account was plundered for £3,000. At the time of her death, her estate had insufficient funds to pay for her funeral.

Another client aged 87 who suffered from dementia, lost £107,500 from her accounts, while a woman of 86 lost £399,000 after Taylor was able to get access to their bank accounts.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Peter Openshaw said: “Some of the victims were understandably outraged at the deceit practised against them. Others may not be aware of what he was up to but their families have been left with the stress and anxiety.

“The money has now been squandered on various sexual excesses and the court is aware of various absurd extravagances. I accept he had many problems and I do not doubt they have preyed on his mind. It does seem to me that the compulsive behaviour and extravagance was due to the drugs he was receiving.

“However he was still a practising solicitor and he was competently conducting his business. He had family and friends and advisers he could and should have sought help from and identified the affect the medication was having on him.”

Do you feel the sentence passed was too lenient, or are you of the opinion that he was deeply affected by the loss of his son, together with the mitigating circumstances heard and that he is now paying a high price for his deceit?

Please let us know your views by leaving a comment below.

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