MARCH: Former solicitor's clerk sentenced to four years in jail for stealing from clients' wills
WEB EXCLUSIVEA FORMER solicitor's clerk was today sentenced to four years in prison after he admitted stealing more than £730,000 from the wills of his clients dead relatives. Philip Nightingale, 58, appeared before Cambridge Crown Court, where he was handed the senten
WEB EXCLUSIVE by: NICKI WALKER
A FORMER solicitor's clerk was today sentenced to four years in prison after he admitted stealing more than £730,000 from the wills of his clients' dead relatives.
Philip Nightingale, 58, appeared before Cambridge Crown Court, where he was handed the sentence after he had admitted 13 financial offences at an earlier hearing.
Nightingale, formerly of March, had abused his position and had siphoned the money from the wills of his clients and put them in separate accounts for himself.
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The offences happened during his time while working in the March office of Bowser, Ollard and Bentley Solicitors, his employers had no idea of his criminal activities.
The money he took had been bequeathed to either relatives of the deceased and, in many cases, charities.
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The elaborate fraud spanned over more than 20 years, and only came to light after he contacted the police to confess his crime.
A six-month police investigation then followed as officers spent hundreds of painstaking hours scouring through bank statements and paperwork to find out where the money had been taken from.
It is not known why Nightingale decided to confess his crimes.
He had previously taken early retirement and had spent the time travelling round Europe.
The money he took was from clients who were unaware of the size of the estate they were bequeathed and how much they were worth.
He would then set up another account, which only he could access, and send the money to it.
He preyed on not only the bereaved, but the deceased and in affect went against the wishes of the dead.
It is understood he had a comfortable life, but did not lead an extravagant lifestyle.
However he was able to take early retirement as a result of his criminal activities.
Det Sgt Dave York, who was the investigating officer, said: "I think the sentence was fair result.
"This was a gross breach of trust and it was a very intricate web of dishonesty which he had weaved over the last 20 years.
"He had deceived friends, colleagues, clients and stole from the deceased."
However, had he not confessed to the crimes, there is a significant chance they would never have been discovered.
There will be further financial court hearings which will be held at a later date.