A solicitor who tried to blame his employers after money started going missing broke down in court as he was sent to prison for 12 months.
Gregory Davies, 30, stole £13,397 – including £540 from a dead woman – by duplicating paperwork and creating fake documents to get clients to pay money directly into his own bank account.
After being caught out he started deleting emails then blamed his firm Catherine Higgins Law in Woolton, Liverpool.
Gregory Davies admitted fraud after directing money into his own bank account (Picture: Liverpool Echo)Prosecutor Simon Christie said: ‘This was a wilful, persistent and cunning fraud over a period of nine months – the defendant grossly abusing the trust both of his employer and of his lay clients.’
Davies completed training in 2012 and was a ‘valued and trusted member of staff’, rising to the rank of director.
But then he had a disagreement with the firm’s owner Catherine Higgins over a bonus.
Mr Christie said: ‘He had added up his figures incorrectly and claimed for work done by a colleague on maternity leave. The amount was around £1,000 and it was not believed to be a major issue.’
However, one of his clients called at the office in July 2016, having been requested by him to produce identification.
Ms Higgins noticed the client had been asked to pay money into a HSBC account, but her firm didn’t bank with them.
He cried as he was jailed for 12 months at Liverpool Crown Court (Picture: PA)A check revealed the file related to Davies’ parents and he had been giving out the wrong account details.
Mr Christie said he realised his client files – principally conveyancing accounts – were being scrutinised and became ‘very agitated’.
Davies was suspended pending an investigation and told not to contact any employees or clients, or use the company’s IT facilities.
After he resigned ‘ghost files’ were found telling other clients to pay money into his account.
Staff also uncovered files with ‘fictitious and unnecessary’ Legal and General invoices, totalling £4,806 and paid for by the firm – they never used L&G’s services.
Another company stated Davies paid £6,225 for searches and indemnity polices – bought to cover his invoicing of these bogus policies.
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In a review of 21 files there were discrepancies of every single client.
When interviewed by police that November, he confessed to inventing paperwork for policies, but claimed he hadn’t been paid a bonus.
He cited difficult working conditions, said he was troubled by financial worries and had moved his mortgage into his wife’s name should he be sued.
Catherine Higgins told the court she had trusted ‘hardworking and ambitious’ Davies and hoped one day he would be her successor.
Ms Higgins said she was a guest at his wedding, when his dad commented on her support and encouragement, and how much his son appreciated it.
But she felt ‘numb and sick’ when she uncovered ‘a web of lies and deception’, then furious at how ‘selfish’ Davies risked her future and that of her staff.