Coroner turned crook is referred to SDT


SRA

SRA: “improper and unauthorised withdrawals” from client account

William John Owen, a former coroner for Carmarthenshire, has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Mr Owen, 79, was jailed for theft in November last year for five years. He admitted 17 charges of theft and false accounting at Newport Crown Court.

In its decision notice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA said the allegations were that he had made “improper and unauthorised withdrawals” from client account, and failed to adhere to the terms of a will of which he was an executor.

Mr Owen had also “been convicted upon his own confession of theft and false accounting and sentenced to a term of imprisonment”. He is due to appear before the SDT on 27 May this year.

The former coroner was reported to have stolen the money from “a long-standing client” after Mr Owen was made executor of his estate.

Prosecuting counsel told Newport Crown Court: “Owen would bill for work, charging it to the estate. He would then take the money without doing any work.”

Mr Owen was said to have stolen a total of £1m from a farmer at a rate of £125,000 a year, as his law firm struggled for business.

He was accused of sending invoices to Mr Williams’ estate up to 14 years after his death – even though little or no work had been carried out.

Judge Stephen Hopkins said: “You used your position of responsibility to acquire half of the bequeathed amount from Mr Williams’ estate.

“You were well known and well liked in the Carmarthenshire area. That made it more difficult to question the amount of money being taken from the account.”

Mr Owen was arrested in 2011 following an investigation by the SRA, which said it had “reason to suspect dishonesty”.

The SRA handed its findings to Dyfed-Powys police and suspended Mr Owen’s PC. He resigned as a coroner, a post he had held for 50 years, 25 of them for county of Carmarthenshire. The SRA also closed Mr Owen’s firm, Moreb Limited, based in Llandeilo.

Tags:




Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reports

Our latest special report, produced in association with Temple Legal Protection, looks at the role of after-the-event (ATE) insurance in commercial litigation post-LASPO. We are at a time when insurers, solicitors, clients and litigation funders work ever more closely to create funding packages that work for all of them, with conditional fee and even damages-based agreements now part of many law firms’ armoury.

Blog

10 December 2019

Is your website lost in the desert?

Having a website is like advertising on a billboard in the middle of the desert – it’s pretty useless unless people are driving past to see it. It’s exactly the same with cyberspace.

Read More

Loading animation