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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee