Solicitor jailed for stealing money using powers of attorney

Griffiths: Abuse of trust

A solicitor has been jailed for two years after admitting abusing her position to steal tens of thousands of pounds from two vulnerable people, one of whom was her father.

Alison Griffiths, 55, of Swindon, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position at Swindon Crown Court.

She told the court she was “very sorry” for her actions, with the judge saying that in stealing £85,000, she “abused confidence placed in you as a solicitor and as a daughter”.

Between December 2018 and February 2021, she stole around £49,000 from a 94-year-old woman for whom she had power of attorney, transferring money from the victim’s account to her own and using the victim’s account to withdraw substantial sums from a cash machine.

According to a local newspaper report of the proceedings, the woman lived in a care home, suffered from dementia and had no family.

Ms Griffiths was reported to police in April 2021 after she admitted to her employer, Swindon firm Optimum Professional Services, that she had stolen the money. This followed her refusal to sign a form when leaving the firm that stated she had carried out no wrongdoings.

The court heard she received a “moderate salary” but, in a “tale of destruction” after becoming romantically involved with a new partner, she became a “different person”.

During the investigation, officers received a second report that, between May 2020 and September 2021, the solicitor took advantage of her 80-year-old father, who passed away last May, this time transferring around £35,000 from his bank account under a power of attorney.

The offence was reported to police after his care provider contacted his family to say they had been unable to take payment for care due to insufficient funds in his account. Ms Griffiths was further arrested and admitted to the offences during interview.

Mary Aspinall-Miles, defending, was reported as saying: “She met her somebody and effectively the folly of love caused her to become lost in that stage in her life.

“It seemed to have made her lose her mind to the effect that she became a different person to the person she was before – and not in a good way.”

The barrister said Ms Griffiths “will almost certainly be struck off” as a solicitor.

DC Dominic Maidment of Wiltshire Police said: “These are two awful situations where Griffiths has taken advantage of her position and stolen tens of thousands of pounds from two vulnerable adults, one of whom is sadly no longer with us.”

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