Man jailed for not returning £280,000 he inherited from customer

A retired window cleaner who inherited £280,000 from a customer has been jailed for 12 months after he failed to return the money.

Albert Pearce, 83, looked after Julie Spalding in her final years and was the sole beneficiary of her will when she died aged 98 in 2008.

However, Ms Spalding’s nephew contested the will.

Pearce was subsequently ordered to return the money.

Pearce claimed he had no bank accounts and no assets of any value, other than a car worth £5,000. He repeatedly claimed there was £300,000 in cash in the boot of the car, but that bailiffs had taken it away. He further claimed that he spent all the money on three world cruises, gambling it away in casinos and racetracks and on other holidays in Scotland and the Midlands.

Mrs Justice Andrews said, ‘The reason that the loss was not reported, and that no complaint was made about it, was because it did not happen.’ She added that it appeared that Pearce felt a moral entitlement to keep the money as he cared for Ms Spalding in her final years, but unfortunately for him, he had no legal right to it.






Immigration solicitor banned

A solicitor whose firm ran a series of immigration claims for judicial review with no prospect of success has been struck off.
According to the Law Gazette, Azfar Naseem Bajwa, principal of east London firm A Bajwa & Co, misled clients into thinking they had a prospect of success in cases which he knew could not be won.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that information supplied by the Home Office highlighted that between August 2014 and July 2015, the firm submitted at least 14 cases which were certified as ‘totally without merit.’
As reported by the Law Gazette, further inspections of the firm by the SRA showed that in a single year, 71 claims for judicial review were filed which were ultimately all refused. In 53 of these claims permission had been refused and of those 20 were totally without merit.
In a judgment, the tribunal said: ‘These were not borderline cases where (Bajwa) had advised a moderate prospect of success and had then been unsuccessful after full legal argument at a hearing. The chances of success had been non-existent and (he) knew that.’
The tribunal heard that it was Home Office policy to defer removal directions when the subject made a claim for JR; delaying removal until a determination was made.
Because removal was therefore no longer ‘imminent’, the claimant would often be released from immigration detention, even when their claim was without merit.
The Law Gazette wrote that Bajwa said he had played down the chances of success to clients and recalled trying to dissuade one client from bringing a claim. But the SRA said he showed a ‘reckless disregard’ for professional obligations and it was no defence to say the claim form had been drafted by his father.
The tribunal described the way in which Bajwa gave evidence as ‘discursive, inconsistent and lacked credibility’, and added that the way in which he used the immigration system had a ‘clear potential to be abusive’.
The judgment added, ‘The filing of unarguable and abusive claims was part of a pattern designed to, in particular in relation to detention cases, secure a result for a client that could not otherwise have been legitimately achieved.’
Bajwa was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £37,500 costs.



Benefit cheat claimed £55,000

A benefit cheat falsely claimed over £55,000 whilst simultaneously receiving money from her husband every month.

Newport Crown Court heard Sharon Calder, 57, had falsely claimed £55,444.43 in benefits including income support, housing benefit, and council tax benefit from around 2009.

Calder had also received around £68,000 in inheritance.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) initially investigated the case in November 2012.

Barrister Jeffrey Jones, prosecuting, said that after obtaining her bank statements the DWP discovered the inheritance had been spent in “less than a week.”

Calder had around £44,500 to pay back and was currently repaying around £180 a month.

Rosamund Rutter, defending, said Calder previously worked as a care worker but due to a back injury had been out of employment since around 2004 and had no previous convictions.

Ms Rutter said, “She (Calder) regrets her behaviour and expressed remorse in her interviews.”

She added that in one interview with the probation service Calder said: “I have made a big mistake”.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said, “You described yourself as a single woman with no income or savings. But the truth is you were being supported by your husband.

Calder pleaded guilty to eight counts of benefit fraud and one count of fraudulent activity with tax credits after initially pleading not guilty.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and a victim surcharge.




The new ‘divorce courts’ where judges will just focus on rows over money

A new plan has been introduced where judges in specialist family courts will focus on separating couples’ rows over money.

The new “Financial Remedies Courts” will be trialled in London, the West Midlands and South Wales next year.

In the new courts, judges will make decisions on only the “financial aspect” of divorce proceedings.

Judicial heads say new “Financial Remedies Courts” will be trialled in London, the West Midlands and South Wales next year.

The move has been announced by Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales.



Businessman jailed for contempt of court after forging mother’s will

A businessman has been given a one-year jail term after judges concluded he had forged his mother’s will and was in contempt of court.

Girish Patel, who is in 60s, had been embroiled in litigation with brother Yashwant, who is in his 70s, over control of a multi-million family business empire.

He had claimed he was the sole beneficiary of his mother Prabhavati’s will at a High Court hearing in London last year.

However, Judge Andrew Simmonds concluded he had forged the will.

Patel later admitted giving false evidence.

Another judge has now imposed a 12-month prison sentence after concluding that Patel was in contempt of court.

Mr Justice Marcus Smith had analysed contempt issues at a further High Court hearing in London earlier this month and has announced his conclusions in a written ruling.

Judges were told he had forged the will in the hope of gaining “tactical advantages” in the on-going business battle.


Lawyer loses latest round of divorce court cash fight

A lawyer who complained he had been ordered to give more than half his disposable income to his estranged wife has lost the most recent round of a divorce court fight.

The man said an order made by Judge Mark Everall at a hearing in the Central Family Court in London left his estranged wife with over £39,000 out of about £78,000.

However, a more senior judge has dismissed an appeal.

Mrs Justice Roberts, who published a ruling after analysing the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said Judge Everall had not made a “wrong” order.

The couple are both qualified lawyers although the woman has not worked since their first child was born more than a decade ago.

Judge Everall had ordered the man to make “periodical payments” to cover living costs for his wife and children as well as school fees.

Judge Everall and Mrs Justice Roberts concluded that the woman’s “foothold in the employment market” was “weaker” than her husband’s.



Jailed lawyer struck off after admitting role in the issuing of false divorces

A former managing partner of a law firm in Bradford, who is serving a prison sentence for fraud, has admitted his role in the issuing of false divorce certificates.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that Mohammed Ayub, 56, had failed to supervise a work experience student who provided three couples with falsified decree absolutes while working at Chambers Solicitor in Bradford from 2010 to 2012.

In two of the cases, the parties involved only became aware of the deception after going on to unwittingly commit bigamy.

In addition to his conviction of fraudulently claiming tens of thousands of pounds from the Legal Aid Agency, the tribunal heard that Ayub has admitted failing to supervise the conduct of divorce proceedings at Chambers, where he was sole equity partner, by a work experience student, known only in reports as ‘Anna.’

Ayub, who was ordered to pay £4,139.34 in costs, admitted failing to supervise staff involved in divorce proceedings, and a failure to deal with the complaints relating to the cases involved.

The tribunal report stated: “The respondent admitted the allegations against him in their entirety.

“Mr Ayub accepts that the seriousness of his admitted misconduct is such that neither a reprimand, a fine, or being suspended from practice would be a sufficient sanction.

“Mr Ayub accepts that the protection of the public and the protection of the reputation of the profession justifies him being struck off the Roll of Solicitors.”

Ayub was jailed for three years and six months in June this year after being found guilty of conspiring with his brother Mohammed Riaz, 50, and solicitor Neil Frew, 49, to form a sham company, known as Legal Support Services, to fraudulently claim tens of thousands of pounds of interpreter’s fees from the Legal Aid Agency, a Government body that administers the legal aid system.


Woman demands share of ex-husbands earnings on top of £10m payout

A woman is demanding a share of her ex-husbands earnings on top of a £10m divorce payout, the court of appeal has heard.

The marriage of Kim Waggott, 49, with William Waggott, 54, ended after his ‘multiple affairs.’

The couple married in 2000 and have a teenage daughter.

Ms Waggott is arguing that she is entitled to a share of the “post-separation” finances.

Mr Waggott, however, says his former wife’s claim should be rejected.

Ms Waggott is challenging a decision made by Recorder Andrew Tidbury in the Family Court last year.

Mr Waggott argues that the judge was right “in law and overall fairness”  to reject Mrs Waggott’s claim to a share in “future bonuses” he earns “long after separation.”

Judges heard that Ms Waggott and their daughter live in Great Missenden, whilst Mr Waggott now lives at Markyate, Hertfordshire, with “another lady.”

Judges heard that Mr Waggott was having an affair with a work colleague in early 2011.

Appeal judges Sir James Munby, Lord Justice Moylan and Mr Justice MacDonald are analysing the dispute at a Court of Appeal hearing in London.



Jail for man who faked £7m will to cheat charity

A man has been jailed after he faked a relative’s will to prevent a charity benefitting from a multi-million pound legacy.

Paul Coppola, 65, admitted forging the signature of Desiderio Coppola just days before his death.

The deceased left his £7m estate to be divided between his family and wished for the balance to be left to the charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Paul Coppola was set to receive £100,000.

However, days before Desiderio Coppola’s death, the court was told Paul Coppola presented a new will to the family that made no mention of the charity.

Fiscal Ann MacNeill told the court that the day after Desiderio Coppola’s death, the accused contacted his goddaughter, Elvira Fearn, to tell her about the content of the faked document.

The fiscal said: “Although she had no knowledge of the wills or the deceased’s intentions, she was suspicious of the will because she was aware that the deceased hated to pay tax and she did not believe that he would have omitted Medecins Sans Frontieres completely and left the residue to the accused as there would have been a large tax liability to pay.”

She added: “Elvira Fearn was of the opinion that the changes to the will reflected the accused’s allegiances rather than the wishes of the deceased.”

Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “Your actions caused much grief, inconvenience and disappointment to the other legatees and your friends and uncertainty to the tenants of properties which were rented from the deceased.”

Coppola was jailed for two years at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.