A conveyancer who forged documents and stole clients’ money after taking the reins of a law firm has been jailed.
Andrew Davies, 34, was jailed for seven years and six months at Bolton Crown Court having pleaded guilty to more than 40 charges including fraud, forgery and money laundering at an earlier hearing.
The court heard how Davies took charge of an established conveyancing firm, Robert Meaton & Co, following the ill-health and subsequent death of Mr Meaton in 2012.
Davies then embarked on a series of fraudulent activities – forging legal documents such as bank statements and Building Regulation certificates.
Shortly after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) began an investigation into the firm in 2014, Davies transferred six-figure mortgage payments from clients – one for £270,398 and another for £205,714 – into his own bank account.
In an impact statement, one victim said Davies’ actions in taking her money had caused her significant stress and financial hardship during the late stages of her pregnancy.
The court was told that Davies’ actions caused losses to the regulator and the firm’s insurers which ran into millions of pounds.
Stephane Pendered, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Andrew Davies joined his law firm as a trainee but by the time he took over its operation he was repeatedly lying to clients and fellow employees and forging documents in order to cover up his lies.
“His actions spiralled out of control and when it became inevitable his lies would expose him, he stole six-figure mortgages from two clients, causing them extensive hardship and worry.
“The CPS worked with the SRA and the police to build a strong case against Davies, which ultimately resulted in his guilty pleas.”