A solicitor who admitted stealing money intended to pay for a client’s nursing home fees has been banned from the profession.
Stephen William Climo, formerly a solicitor at Worcestershire firm G S & O Solicitors, was jailed for 20 months last September after admitting one count of fraud by false representation, three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of theft.
Climo, admitted in 2000, misappropriated monies from five clients in connection with probate and trust files. In total he misappropriated £13,229, all of which has since been repaid to the clients.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last month heard Climo had admitted withdrawing around £7,800 for his personal benefit from a client account which had been intended for nursing home fees.
On another occasion, Climo attended a client’s home over an instruction for a new will and lasting power of attorney. He received two cheques, for £2,000 and £700 respectively, which were paid into a bank account which he jointly held with his wife.
Climo also admitted to making unauthorised withdrawals coming to £2,400 from the bank account of a deceased client, having failed to inform the bank of her death.
In sentencing remarks, His Honour Judge RJ Rundell said Climo had let down himself, his family, friends and colleagues. ‘In terms of culpability, you are high up the scale, having regard to the period concerns, the number of clients and grave breach of trust involved,’ Rundell said.
The tribunal agreed with these comments, and added that the matter was especially serious as it had damaged Climo's former firm’s reputation in the eyes of the public.
‘[Climo’s] culpability was extremely high, right at the top end of the scale,’ said the tribunal. ‘His motivation was greed and personal gain. The misconduct was clearly planned.’
Climo offered little explanation for his actions in mitigation, and stated that he ‘deeply regretted’ any upset, embarrassment and stress caused to the profession, his former firm and its partners and staff.
He was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £4,254 in prosecution costs.