A solicitor who withdrew thousands of pounds from an elderly client’s bank account and failed to protect four rings given to him for safekeeping has been removed from the roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
George James Stanley Lonsdale, admitted in 1990, was accused by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) of withdrawing over £6,000 for his own personal use from the bank account of his ‘vulnerable’ 85-year-old client (Mr D).
According to the judgment, between February and March 2015 Lonsdale withdrew £1,500 in cash from a Barclays account held by Mr D. Meanwhile, between October 2015 and June 2016 he withdrew up to £4,600 from Mr D’s NatWest account.
Lonsdale was also accused of failing to protect, either adequately or at all, four rings given to him by Mr D for safekeeping. According to the statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome, Lonsdale stored the rings in his personal safe at home.
The respondent admitted to the SRA’s allegations.
Lonsdale was Mr D’s sole attorney and, according to the judgment, ‘had been in a position of trust that went beyond the usual level of trust that should exist between a solicitor and a client.’
The tribunal added: ‘The respondent had access to his client’s property and money, so the public and the profession required there to be the highest standards of transparency.’
In mitigation, Lonsdale said that he repaid Mr D the amount withdrawn shortly before his resignation, as part of a larger sum. Lonsdale also co-operated with the SRA’s investigation into his conduct.
Lonsdale was struck off by the tribunal and ordered to pay costs of £3,193.