Will-writer stole from dead man's estate

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The Independent Online

A will-writer who stole tens of thousands of pounds from a dead man's estate, spending it on a cruise on the QE2 and gambling, was today jailed for two and a half years.

Martin Lloyd was supposed to hand the money, left in a will, to a number of charities but instead kept it for himself.

Lloyd, 57, of Symington Street, Northampton, was today jailed at Northampton Crown Court after admitting theft while in a position of trust.

Prosecutor Alex Bull said: "He ran a will-writing business. In 2001 he drew up a will for Raymond Lake and was asked to be his executor.

"In November 2005 Mr Lake died. In January 2006, Mr Lloyd applied for probate. He advised that the value of the estate did not exceed £135,000."

She said 25% of the money was to be divided between Mr Lake's two nieces, while 5% was to go to his church in Yelvertoft, Northampton, 10% to the Injured Jockeys Fund and 60% to Cancer Research UK.

But the court heard the Injured Jockeys Fund and Cancer Research never received their money. Instead the money was paid into Lloyd's own account.

Miss Bull said: "In interview he said he spent £14,000 on a cruise on the QE2 with his wife, £26,000 on gambling and the rest he could not account for specifically but admitted he had spent it."

She said he told police he had been working as a will-writer since 1993, but had "got into a bit of a mess" with his tax payments.

The court heard Lloyd owed £50,000 by the time he was made bankrupt last year.

He was charged in February of this year with theft between August 2009 and January this year.

Today Judge Michael Fowler told him he had stolen whilst in a position of trust.

He said: "Having set up a business that in itself feeds on the trust of those who used your services you then agreed to be the executor to the estate of Raymond Lake.

"Having agreed to be his executor, obviously fully aware of the potential beneficiaries of his will, after his death you took the opportunity to steal from his estate to such an extent that the benefit to you was over £100,000.

"People came to you, and in Mr Lake's case especially, put in your hands the results of a lifetime's work, expecting them to go after his death not only to members of his family but to those charities that he thought were deserving of his help, and clearly they were.

"You then dipped into the estate of Mr Lake, depriving the Injured Jockeys Fund and Cancer Research of the funds that Mr Lake intended to go to benefit them."

Judge Fowler told Lloyd another factor was what the money had been spent on, saying: "£14,000 on a cruise for yourself and your wife is an extreme luxury and must have been apparent to you at the time you committed this offence."

The judge said he did not accept Lloyd's claims that he did not know where the rest of the money had gone and dismissed defence suggestions that the gambling had been a real attempt to get back the money to repay the estate.

He ordered a confiscation order in the sum of £65,240.61 to be paid by way of compensation to the charities.