A former solicitor struck off the roll last year has been jailed for stealing almost £1m to prop up her struggling firm.
Kimberley Bridge (pictured) dipped into multiple client accounts to support the ‘ailing’ Burnley firm SFN Solicitors, Lancashire police said.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority inspected the business in October 2012 and opted to close it down in January 2013 after finding financial irregularities.
A subsequent investigation by detectives revealed that Bridge stole almost £1m over several years by taking money deposited by clients mainly for conveyancing services.
Bridge, 44, of Burnley, was sentenced to three years and four months in jail at Preston Crown Court on Friday.
Speaking after sentencing, detective sergeant Nick Hodgson said: ‘Bridge has shown little empathy for her actions after preying on her victims - some of whom were extremely vulnerable - whilst in a position of trust.
‘The public rightly expect that solicitors and those in positions of trust should uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Her fraudulent activities have been an extreme breach of that trust.
‘Unfortunately not all the victims have been compensated for their losses and some have very emotional, sad stories about money with very personal attachments - after losing their loved ones - being stolen.’
Bridge has already been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
In a case brought by the SRA last year, the tribunal found 19 allegations proven against Bridge, including failing to act in the best interests of clients, failing to act with integrity and making improper withdrawals from the client account.
The tribunal heard she had tried to conceal shortfalls on the client account by creating a fictitious property sale.