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Farnhill solicitor Timothy Chapman took money from client's account
A solicitor has been jailed for stealing more than £200,000 from a close friend and client of 20 years.
Timothy Chapman, 55, withdrew the money from the account of Brian Turton, who is in his late 70s, between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2006.
Prosecutor Emma Down-ing told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that Mr Turton had been a client of Skipton-based Chapman since the early 1980s, and gave him full power of attorney over his UK affairs when he moved to Switzer-land in 1990.
Mr Turton had agreed to lend Chapman £60,000 to further his business and allowed the solicitor to make withdrawals from his account.
After confessing to Mr Turton, he reported himself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and was struck off the solicitors’ roll.
He was declared bankrupt in 2008 and sold his house to try to repay Mr Turton but more than £160,000 still remains outstanding.
Mitigating for Chapman, Jeremy Lindsay said after setting up his own legal firm his client’s poor business acumen had sent him, “deeper into a vortex of debt and difficulty”.
He said Chapman had been suffering depression brought on by, “struggling between stress and the inability to cope with the business requirements of the subject he loves”.
Sentencing him to 18 months in prison, Judge John Potter described the case as tragic.
He said: “In effect, for one reason or another, you wilfully plundered this man’s estate to keep your business going.
“It may be things became out of control, and whilst you originally thought you could repay, such thoughts became unrealistic the more you took.
“You accept you stole dishonestly from Mr Turton’s bank account. You know that was a gross breach of trust, causing significant loss at the time, and still, to Mr Turton, to whom you owed a duty of good faith and care.”
He also told Chapman he had been “undermining the public’s faith in your profession”.