Leeds solicitor’s £51,000 fraud

Michael Rigg.

Michael Rigg.

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A Leeds solicitor who stole more than £50,000 from an elderly dementia patient has been jailed.

Michael Rigg, 60, had legal authority to look after the finances of the frail 82-year-old after she went into a care home.

Rigg “systematically” withdrew money from her bank and post office accounts over three years.

Leeds Crown Court heard he used the money to pay his own mother’s care home fees, gave some to charity and his local church and spent some on a holiday to Switzerland to go trainspotting and walking.

Rigg, of Carlton Mount, Yeadon, was jailed for two years and two months yesterday after admitting three offences of fraud by abuse of position of trust. A total of £51,488 was stolen.

The court heard the victim was a close friend of Rigg’s mother and thought of him as a son.

Rigg, a solicitor at Leeds-based Morrish Solicitors, was caught after staff at the Yeadon branch of Leeds BuildingSociety became suspicious and monitored the cash withdrawals.

When challenged on one occasion he claimed the money was being withdrawn as the victim was going on holiday to Cornwall. Staff spoke to the care home manager who confirmed the woman was not going on holiday and Rigg was arrested.

Mark Foley, mitigating, said the victim had been a close family for many years and he had been her family solicitor.

In 2003 the woman changed her will so that Rigg would receive 50 per cent of her estate. In 2007 her helped find her a nursing home after she became ill and attained power of attorney.

Mr Foley said: “He treated her money as his own and over the period of time. The money was not spent on a flamboyant lifestyle and there is no evidence of it being spent frivolously in any way, shape or form.” He added: “He is a man of modest means and always has been.”

Mr Foley said Rigg, a bachelor, had now re-paid the stolen money but had lost his job and faced retirement with an uncertain financial future.

Jailing him, recorder Tahir Khan QC said: “It is difficult to imagine somebody being more vulnerable and in need of protection.

“You were in a position of trust and great responsibility. Your occupation as a solicitor would have left you in no doubt at all about what you were engaging in was serious dishonesty.”

After the hearing, a spokesperson for Morrish Solicitors said: “Clearly this is a very serious matter and as such, we decided to suspend MrRigg from his duties, upon his arrest, nearly six months ago. He subsequently, immediately resigned.

“These allegations refer to dealings undertaken by Mr Rigg without the organisation’s knowledge and do not relate to any current clients of the firm.”

Date: 23rd June 2017.
Picture James Hardisty.
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