A Gloucestershire solicitor, who also served as the county coroner, has been struck off for taking nearly £2m from clients.
Alan Crickmore, who was jailed for eight years in November, stole from vulnerable clients to fund an extravagant lifestyle of fine dining and expensive holidays.
At the time of his sentencing the Crown Prosecution Service said Crickmore abused his position to systematically steal from and defraud his clients. He usually targeted elderly or infirm clients living in nursing homes or stole from the estates of deceased clients whose wills he had drawn up.
He pleaded guilty to 16 counts of theft and eight counts of fraud at Southwark Crown Court (pictured) last October.
After a case brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal today banned him for working as a solicitor, as well as ordering him to pay £66,000 costs.
The tribunal found that he misappropriated clients’ funds and used them for his own benefit, withdrew and/or transferred monies from the client bank account other than as permitted, and took unfair advantage of a client.
It also found that he failed to ensure compliance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules, and failed to keep accounts properly written up.
Mr J C Chesterton, chair of the panel, said: ‘This tribunal rarely sees such conscious impropriety on such a scale over such a sustained period of time. It was undertaken by an experienced solicitor who held a judicial appointment and was a solicitor trustee and attorney.
‘The damage to the reputation of the profession in the eyes of the public is grave. The public have the right to trust a solicitor to the ends of the earth.
‘The public need to know that when there is a case such as this both the criminal law and this tribunal will deal with the solicitor appropriately, and that the solicitors’ profession in general will make good the loss to victims insofar as the solicitor himself does not.’
It has been confirmed that the SRA has paid out more than £250,000 from the compensation fund to those who suffered financial hardship as a result of Crickmore’s actions.
The SRA confirmed that Crickmore’s practice, Alan C Crickmore Solicitors, in Cheltenham, was closed in December 2010 following an intervention.