Solicitor jailed for abuse of position

A Wiltshire solicitor has been jailed for 24 months after being found guilty of stealing tens of thousands of pounds from elderly clients for whom she had power of attorney.

Alison Griffiths admitted to her employer in 2021 that she had stolen around £49,000 from a 94-year-old woman in a care home, either by transferring money from the victim’s account to her own or by withdrawing substantial amounts of cash from her account from an ATM.

Her employer reported the crime to the authorities and during the investigation, Wiltshire Police received a report of theft by abuse of position relating to an 80-year-old man – who turned out to be Griffiths’ father.

During questioning, Griffiths admitted that he had transferred around £35,000 from his account into her own between May 2020 and September 2021. He has since died.

The crimes came to light when Griffiths refused to sign a form when leaving her employers that stated she had carried out no wrongdoings.

According to the prosecution, it was at this point that she said she could not sign because “she had been taking money from a client”.

Between 2018 and 2021 Griffiths stole £49,482.52 from Betty Gleed, who had no family and was suffering from dementia. During the investigation, Griffiths said she had recently started a new relationship and had “lost her mind”, spending the stolen money on holidays and other luxuries.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “The fact that Griffiths was apparently driven to confess by being confronted with a form that would have required her to declare her innocence may seem surprising to some.

“However, it is precisely this principle that lies behind’s the Government’s reported approach to overturning the convictions of former subpostmasters and subpostmistresses who were wrongly convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal.

“The Prime Minister has announced legalisation that will lead to a blanket exoneration to overturn hundreds of convictions, brought about thanks to erroneous Horizon evidence, clearing the names of many people who have had their lives ruined.

“This will pave the way for them to get swift compensation including claims damages to restore them to the financial position in which they would otherwise have been, which is something that can be calculated by forensic accountants.

“The government recognises that the blanket exoneration may lead to the overturning of some convictions that were rightfully brought and it will therefore introduce safeguards to make sure anyone who was rightly convicted and is now trying to take advantage of compensation schemes, can be prosecuted in the future.

“One of the safeguards that is being discussed is apparently some form of declaration of innocence.  Only time will tell how many of those who were guilty of wrongdoing will respond as Griffiths did, by confessing.”


Sources: BBC News

Posted in The Forensic Blog.