A “disgraceful” solicitor has been struck off after taking around £250,000 from a client under a power of attorney after he had died and also creating false wills for other deceased clients to pay off the legitimate beneficiaries of the first estate.
Peter Charles Davies said the beneficiaries were “hassling” him to distribute money from the estate of a Mr AW, so he faked the wills to access money from other estates.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said he thought it would be harder to detect his conduct given that both clients were dead.
He also used Mr AW’s account as a conduit for money dishonestly obtained from other estates, while in two unconnected cases was found to have pocketed fees paid in cash by clients of as little as £180.
Mr Davies, who was born in 1957 and qualified in 1995, was an assistant solicitor until March 2016 at Parry Davies Clnwyd Jones & Lloyd LLP in Gwynedd, south Wales.
Mr Davies admitted each of nine allegations that he had dishonestly breached the rules between 2010 and 2016. Most of the money was withdrawn at cash points over the years.
The tribunal recorded that at around the time he was dismissed from the firm, he confessed to two of the partners that he “had been helping himself to some of the money from Mr AW’s estate”, but could not remember how much.
In 2015 Mr Davies created two fraudulent wills in relation to unrelated estates that included payments of £50,000 and £20,000 to beneficiaries of Mr AW’s estate.
He later told the Solicitors Regulation Authority investigator that he added the beneficiaries because “they were hassling me to distribute… um… and I gave in by doing that”.
Describing his conduct as “disgraceful”, the SDT said Mr Davies had “plundered the estates of deceased clients for his own personal purposes causing losses to the beneficiaries”.
He had, it concluded, “demonstrated a shocking abuse of the trust placed in him and was not fit to be a solicitor”.
Mr Davies was also ordered to pay £17,000 in costs.