Lawyer jailed for £51,000 OAP fraud

 

A solicitor was today jailed for 26 months after stealing more than £51,000 from an elderly dementia sufferer who treated him like a son.

Michael Rigg, 60, of Carlton Mount, Yeadon, Leeds, had known 84-year-old Jessie Robinson for around 30 years and stood to receive half of her estate when she died.

He began using her money "for his own piggy bank" after he was made power of attorney when Mrs Robinson went into a care home.

Mark Foley, defending Rigg, told Leeds Crown Court his client was "a man of modest means" who spent the money on donations to the church and charity, his mother's nursing home fees and payments to people "in financial need".

He said: "That money, it is not suggested, was spent on a profligate lifestyle. There is no evidence of this money being spent frivolously."

Mr Foley told the court that Rigg, a keen train spotter and cyclist, could not explain why he had taken the money and had "great difficulty in really recognising the enormity and seriousness of what he's done".

He said: "One possibility is he was getting his money out before it was spent on nursing home fees."

The court heard Rigg was a family friend of Mrs Robinson who acted as a solicitor for her and her late husband, looked after her and visited her regularly.

Mr Foley said: "He describes himself as being a son-like figure to the complainant."

Mrs Robinson drew up a will with a different solicitor, naming Rigg as a 50% beneficiary and, in September 2007, she granted him power of attorney.

The court heard that, while the documents were drawn up correctly, Rigg never registered them.

Over the next three years, he 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 the Yeadon branch of the Leeds Building Society became suspicious.

He initially told police he had given some of the money to Mrs Robinson but later admitted he had used it for his own purposes.

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

Mr Foley said: "This is a solicitor of 60 years of age, a man of good character, who has committed an appalling breach of trust."

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."

He continued: "You persistently stole money belonging to the victim over three years.

"Your occupation as a solicitor would have left you with no doubt at all that what you were engaging in was serious dishonesty."

The court heard Rigg had repaid the money taken from Mrs Robinson and proceeds of crime proceedings were also under way.

Speaking outside the court after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Steven Taylor, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "This is a bizarre case with no real motive. The only thing that we found was this was easily accessible money.

"He used his client and friend's money for his own piggy bank."

The detective added: "The fact that he was a family friend is an aggravating feature. The fact that he's a professional in a role as such to protect his client, it's unforgivable really.

"We're expected as professionals to protect the most vulnerable in society, which this lady is."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn