A struck-off solicitor who admitted stealing more than £700,000 from two vulnerable people while in practice has been jailed for four years.
Marcus Paul Nickson, aged 66, who was a clinical negligence partner at Cumbrian firm KJ Commons, stole the money from damages settlements awarded by courts to his clients.
He admitted two counts of theft that occurred between 2006 and 2013, at a hearing at Preston Crown Court last month.
Reports say that he took the money from the compensation of a baby girl born with catastrophic brain injuries, and a 22-year-old man who suffered a stroke which left him permanently disabled.
His misconduct was discovered in 2013 after KJ Commons ran into financial difficulties following the death of senior partner Kevin Commons, one of the victims of Derrick Bird’s shooting spree in west Cumbria in 2010.
Barry Cowin, financial investigator at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Marcus Paul Nickson preyed upon his vulnerable victims in order to steal money that was awarded to them. By doing so he caused significant distress and pain to both victims and their families.
“Nickson, who was seen as a well-known professional, is a cruel individual and his actions are nothing short of despicable.
“He had the full trust of both victims after initially working to win their awarded claims, he then callously betrayed them. I am pleased that he has been brought to justice for his crimes.
“I hope that today’s sentencing can provide some form of closure to the victims in this case and their families. They have been extremely brave throughout our investigation.”
Nickson was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2016 for multiple rule breaches, including taking costs from damages awarded to clients in legal aid funded cases, when the firm had no entitlement to those costs because they had not been subject to legal aid assessment. These withdrawals resulted in significant shortfalls in client funds.
The tribunal found his actions to be reckless but not dishonest. They left a shortfall of more than £500,000 in the firm’s client accounts.