A former solicitor who used cash from dead clients as part of a £200,000 fraud has been jailed for three years.

Noel Pugsley, a former partner at Askew Bunting Solicitors in Guisborough, took clients’ money and used it to pay off other clients when he could not cope with his workload, Teesside Crown Court (pictured) heard.

The 42-year-old was sentenced to 30 months in jail on 23 September.

Last month, Pugsley was struck off the roll and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs following a hearing at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

The SDT found that Pugsley had misappropriated £203,785 from four clients. Of that sum, £96,000 came from clients who had died.

Pugsley used the money to pay off other clients with some falsely believing they had won their cases when in fact Pugsley had not completed their claims.

The money has since been repaid.

Pugsley also forged documents including the decree absolutes of two women who later found out that they were not legally divorced.

The court heard that Pugsley did not gain anything financially from his crimes.

Puglsey was born in 1973 and was admitted to the roll in 1999. He became a salaried partner in 2006 and an equity partner in 2009.

According to the court, Pugsley ran into financial and personal difficulties, had a string of health problems and had separated from his wife.

He admitted to fraud, false accounting and five counts of forgery between December 2012 and April 2014.