A promising and emerging solicitor who was in the process of being groomed to take on the leadership of a Liverpool law firm has received a jail sentence for committing a £13,400 fraud, an act which his former boss said had left her with an “indescribable feeling of betrayal.”
Gregory Davies, based on the Wirral, pled guilty to a single count of fraud by false representation in his appearance at Liverpool Crown Court. He received a sentenced of 12 months in prison, with the charges relating directly to his work at Catherine Higgins Law in the period of September 2015 to July 2016.
The charges related to the duplication of paperwork and the creation of fake policy documents to request money that was then deposited into his personal bank account. Davies, it was found, also gave clients his own bank details rather than those of his legal employer with regards to some of the services rendered.
The case will be of interest to solicitors in the Southport area and across Merseyside. Additionally, it was found that Davies diverted money from the estates of clients into his own bank, including an instance where he took £540 from the estate of a woman who had died, attempting to disguise it as funeral cost payment.
Catherine Higgins, the firm’s managing director, said in her victim impact statement; “I placed my trust in Greg. I expected him to have the high standards and integrity I would expect from any solicitor. I came to regard Greg as a long-term prospect and hopefully my successor to enable me to eventually retire.
We would talk and make plans for the future of the business and at no time did I suspect that he was committing fraud at the expense of the firm and our clients. When Greg’s criminal behaviour was uncovered, I felt numb and sick. When it became clear that Greg had stolen from the firm, the feeling of betrayal was indescribable.”
After the sentencing, Ms Higgins responded; “I am pleased that these proceedings are now concluded. It has been a difficult time for me and my firm and I would like to thank everyone involved for their tenacity and patience. It is disappointing when a member of the legal profession falls below the standard required but I can assure my clients that in each case where a loss was identified, my firm has repaid that loss to the clients.
When his actions were uncovered by his colleagues, only then was the full extent revealed. I immediately reported the matter to Action Fraud and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.”
Mr Davies’s legal counsel had stated to the court that Mr Davies “perceived that he was overworked and overstressed” and “considered rightly or wrongly he was due a bonus of £14,000”.
Mr Davies agreed to the count of fraud when prosecutors said they would drop charges relating to perverting the course of justice. Chris Hawitt, Detective Sergeant at Merseyside Police stated on the conclusion of the case, that “Davies carried out this fraud with a blatant disregard for his clients or his employer.”