A Cheshire solicitor convicted of multiple counts of fraud has been barred from the profession by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Andrew John Taylor, who practised from his firm in Cheadle, misappropriated £624,000 through payments and transfers from the firm’s client account for his own personal use.
Taylor’s victims had been clients vulnerable due to their elderly age or dementia, and in some cases he had held a power of attorney for them.
Taylor was convicted in March 2015 at Manchester Crown Court of 13 counts of fraud by abuse of a position.
The tribunal heard that the sentencing judge, The Honourable Mr Justice Openshaw, stated Taylor had ‘frittered away’ the money on ‘various absurd extravagancies’. Some clients were unaware they had money stolen, and families were left distressed and anxious due to not knowing precisely what had happened.
A medical report on the solicitor found he had taken drugs to treat a medical condition which could cause compulsive and addictive behaviour.
Taylor, the report added, had shown features of impulsive compulsive disorder but his defence of having lost control was ‘weak’, given that he initially viewed his actions as ‘borrowing’ money and had lied to his wife and work colleagues about his sudden financial windfall.
Openshaw said Taylor, 58, had continued to conduct other parts of his business competently but should have sought help to identify the effects the medication was having and to get treatment.
The tribunal said Taylor had ‘grossly breached’ his position of trust and failed to act with integrity, with vulnerable clients taken advantage of. These actions had funded a ‘lavish and degenerative lifestyle’, the tribunal noted.
Taylor, who is serving four years in prison, was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1981 but does not currently hold a practising certificate.
The SRA decided to prosecute after being contacted by the Greater Manchester Police Economic Crime Unit following suspicious activity in Taylor’s personal bank account. An SRA inspection immediately followed which resulted in a partial intervention.
As well as being struck off, Taylor was ordered to pay costs of £2,843.83.