Solicitor jailed for stealing £200,000 from severely disabled client
A crooked solicitor has been jailed for taking more than £200,000 from the bank account of a severely disabled client in order to save his failing West Yorkshire legal firm.
Robert Wiggans took advantage of his position in charge of the young woman’s finances to commit fraud offences which a judge described as “the most terrible breach of trust”.
Wiggans carried out the deception when he was a senior partner at Dewsbury-based legal firm Hellewell, Pasley and Brewer. Leeds Crown Court heard Wiggans, 61, was the compliance officer for finance and administration at the time of the offending in 2015 and 2016.
Heather Gilmour, prosecuting, said Wiggans managed compensation which had been paid to the victim as she was severely disabled due to medical negligence. She requires 24-hour care and cannot live unaided.
Wiggans was appointed by the Court of Protection to look after her financial affairs in 2001. The prosecutor said the defendant was also required to safeguard the woman’s financial interests.
Wiggans’ offending came to light in 2017. Ms Gilmour said: “None of the money was repaid into the client’s account and he did not have the consent of the family.”
The defendant said the money was used to pay staff wages and VAT bills.
Wiggans, of Park Avenue, Shelley, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud.
The court heard the victim was insured and the money has been repaid to her.
Carl Kingsley, mitigating, said Wiggans also borrowed £250,000 from his parents to put into the business in 2015 but that money was also lost.
Jailing Wiggans for two years and four months, Judge Neil Clark said: “This was the most terrible breach of trust.
“You sacrificed the needs of your client to satisfy the needs of the business.”