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Shamed solicitor jailed after taking almost £150,000 from pensioner’s will

By John Scott | Crime | Published:

Andrew Eastham received £279,462 after Eric Woolfeden died - but paid his niece just £7,500.

Wolverhampton Crown Court where the case was heard

A shamed former solicitor who took almost £150,000 from a pensioner’s will, paying some into the accounts of his ex-wife’s company in Tettenhall, has been jailed.

Andrew Eastham had £279,462 paid into his bank account following the death of Eric Woolfeden in 2014.

He was the sole executor of the will and was supposed to send the sum to Mr Woolfeden’s niece, 77-year-old Elaine Price.

But instead Eastham only sent her £7,500 and transferred around half the money to his former wife Anne Marie Darby through a company called Portman Legal Ltd, initially based in Burland Avenue, Tettenhall.

The 46-year-old was facing bankruptcy when her ex-husband received the proceeds from Mr Woolfeden’s will on September 8 2014, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Mr Woolfeden, of Blackpool, who died on May 10 2014, signed his will in 1990 when Eastham was still a solicitor.

But he was removed from the roll of solicitors in 2007 over handling of clients’ money.

After the initial £95,000 was paid into the Portman Legal Ltd account, another £20,000 followed three days later on September 12 with the same amount in cash being withdrawn three days after that.

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Between October 2014 and August 2015, 15 payments totalling £34,062 were made by 63-year-old Eastham to Portman Legal, revealed Mr Harpreet Sandhu, prosecuting.

Mr Joseph Hart, defending, claimed Eastham had wanted to continue the relationship with his ex-wife.

Eastham, from Underbank Road, Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, admitted fraud by abuse of position and was jailed by Judge John Wait for two years, eight months.

Ms Darby, who is thought to have previously lived in Lower Penn, was initially a co-accused.

She never entered a plea and her psychiatric condition meant she was unfit to stand trial.

The allegation was left to lie on the file on August 31.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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