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Solicitor “outrageously plundered” assets of elderly client

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has struck off a solicitor who stole more than £300,000 of his elderly and disabled client’s money using a secret bank account.

Stephen John Acres was found to have committed the “outrageous plundering” of his client’s assets in a particularly “deplorable” case of dishonest conduct.

The tribunal heard that, as well as repeated theft, his misconduct included invoicing the client £12,000 for a number of one-hour weekly visits to his client in 2015, nominally charged at £250 per hour.  However, her care home confirmed only two visits from the solicitors’ firm were recorded in the visitors’ book in 2014 and one in 2015, while no telephone calls were logged.

The invoice also included £6,000 for “liaising with the vicar and… friends regarding… sorting through photographs and arranging delivery” to the care home.

Over the course of several years, the solicitor stole the assets of his bed-ridden client by signing cheques, bank transfers, and debit card cash withdrawals.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority found Mr Acres’ misconduct had been “deliberate and calculated” and motivated by personal gain. He had “repeatedly stole[n] money from her”.

It concluded: “He had continually and unremittingly taken advantage of his elderly and extremely vulnerable client. … The respondent’s conduct was one of the most deplorable cases of dishonest conduct involving the outrageous plundering of his vulnerable and elderly client’s assets.”

(Source – Legal Futures website)