A crooked solicitor, who swindled £160,000 from two grieving relatives when administering the estates of their deceased loved ones, has been jailed for five years.
Tyrone Anthony Walker, 58, of Tower Road, Twickenham simply paid cheques into his personal bank account and tried to cover his tracks, also depriving charities of pay-outs.
He was found guilty by Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court of seven counts of fraud, committed between April, 2008 and July, 2012 at south-west London’s Walker’s Solicitors.
Walker defrauded widow Hans Bala Chand of £45,528 she was due from her deceased mother’s estate and £114,000 from Dr. Mark Downham, the beneficiary of his deceased uncle’s estate.
Some repayments have been made, but Walker, who has a property portfolio of five homes, faces compensation proceedings.
Prosecutor Miss Charlotte Newell told the court: “Mrs Chand was plainly distressed when she gave evidence. She had trusted Mr. Walker completely.
“There was personal communication between them and she clearly thought of him as a trusted friend.
“She says it was a terrible mistake that he took advantage of her kind nature and she was incredibly vulnerable at that stage of her life.
“As she says: ‘I was an easy target.’ She thought she’d be retired now, but she’s still working full-time to meet the financial obligations as a result of Mr. walker’s dishonesty.”
Dr. Downham still rues the six-and-half years he says Walker “thwarted” his uncle’s will and says charities “dear to my uncle’s heart” were deprived of money for years.
Walker took ‘loans’ from clients to finance a Bulgarian property investment and used his clients’ money to pay a £10,000 tax bill.
his dishonesty also damaged the legal career of the firm’s partner Trevor Nathan, who he tried to blame while fighting the case throughout.
“He also used money to pay his partner five thousand pounds. He was using it as his private bank account,” explained Miss Newell.
“There was the deliberate targeting of of a vulnerable victim, Mrs Chand, from whom a considerable amount of money was taken.
“There was serious detrimental effects on the victims.”
Recorder Mark Bryant-Heron QC told Walker: “You abused your position to deceive clients of your firm and you removed and kept at your home address the two client files.
“Your offences constitute a gross breach of trust of the highest gravity. You sought to blame Trevor Nathan, saying he was incompetent or worse and the jury did not believe you.
“You are a man of ability now facing a bleak future. You brought this on yourself.”
his lawyer David Burgess said his client takes medication for a heart condition. “His next destination, HMP Wandsworth is not likely to improve his stress levels.”
Walker was repeatedly disciplined by the Law Society and suspended for two years in 2011.
He tried to hide £29,300 he took from Dr. Downham by describing it as inheritance tax even though the estate was not subject to the charge.
The four Coventry Building Society accounts held by Mrs Chand’s mother were not included in the estate, but used to pay another client’s stamp duty on a £785,000 Weybridge house.
“She should have had over fifty thousand pounds, but it was reduced to a few pence by supposed loans,” explained Miss Newell.
“He never paid that money back. She chased Mr. Walker for the money and he told her he had no funds and earned no money.
“She was fond of Mr. Walker and was apologetically asking for her own money and seemed to want to take him out for a meal before he moved to Dubai.”