A licensed conveyancer who stole £37,000 of client and firm monies has been told he cannot work for a law firm again.
Stephen Draper, who was manager of Lancashire firm Walkers Solicitors, was jailed in February for 16 months after being convicted of 16 charges of theft. Draper had misappropriated the money in conveyancing transactions between 2003 and 2010.
He has now signed an agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority that controls his future activities within the legal profession.
In effect, the agreement prevents him from being employed in any law firm again. The SRA can also prevent any law firm from asking him to carry out work, even on a pro bono basis.
Draper’s theft was discovered in August 2010 after one of the firm’s two remaining managers notified the SRA of concerns relating to transactions he was overseeing. He was suspended by the firm whilst it undertook an investigation.
Draper had misappropriated funds by failing to pay monies he had received from clients in cash into client accounts. He also made improper withdrawals from client accounts and failed to keep accounting records properly written up to reflect the receipt of monies.
To conceal his activities from the firm he drafted misleading documentation on his conveyancing files.
After Draper’s sentencing at Manchester Crown Court, Walkers confirmed that all monies had been returned to clients and it has since introduced procedures to ensure that the theft could not happen again.