A former solicitor who stole almost £110,000 from three elderly clients has been give a suspended prison sentence.

Paul Arscott, from Hove, was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday. He must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £20,000 prosecution costs.

The 49-year-old pleaded guilty in September to four offences of theft and fraud after taking the money from the women, over whom he had power of attorney. An investigation by the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit uncovered that Arscott, who came off the roll in 2014, targeted the three vulnerable clients in crimes spanning several years.

He took £23,000 from a Brighton man who died in 2012 aged 91, having been given power of attorney and made executor of the estate. The money, which had been left to charity, was repaid before the trial.

Arscott also acted in a similar capacity for a 95-year-old Hove woman who died in 2017, taking £60,000 of savings from his victim. He repaid £50,000 to her estate before trial and has now been ordered to pay back the other £10,000 plus £15,000 in compensation.

Investigators also uncovered a fraud by abuse of position against a Hove woman, aged 76. Arscott was her solicitor, with power of attorney from 2013, but over almost two years he stole £25,000 from her. He repaid the sum after conviction but before sentencing.

Speaking following sentencing, Detective Constable Nikki Thiim said: ‘Arscott used his position as a solicitor and power of attorney to access monies to make himself a very rich man. The vulnerable elderly victims had no capacity to make any decisions and were considered to be suffering from severe dementia, so had no idea what the person who they have entrusted to look after them has been doing.’