Crooked lawyer stole £65k

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

A crooked Wigan solicitor who stole tens of thousands of pounds for work done while banned from the industry will face a crown court judge.

Margaret Barton, from Hindley, admitted taking around £65,000 from four different victims between 2014 and 2016 when she appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.

Barton, of Brookland Avenue, pleaded guilty to four offences of theft and the court heard she was taking money from Hindley residents for probates and divorce settlements.

However, she had been thrown out of the profession after being put behind bars in 2002 for obtaining money by deception, the court heard.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is still trying to discover exactly how much money Barton fleeced each of her individual victims for.

The 58-year-old was told her offences were too serious for the magistrates to pass sentence on and she will now appear at Bolton Crown Court for sentencing next month.

Prosecuting, Katie Beattie said: “Ms Barton was a conveyance solicitor sentenced to custody for deception matters.

“She used not being allowed to practice to her advantage and did three probate applications and a divorce settlement.

“Money has passed hands and she has held on to some of it.

“It is a high-value amount and there is also an issue with breach of trust.”

The court was told that between July 2014 and mid-June 2016 Barton stole cash from Sheila Clark and also took money from Brenda Schofield between November 2014 and June 2016.

Barton was also guilty of theft from Adele Ellis between June 2015 and June 2016 and took another sum of money from Gail Pacey between September 2015 and June 2016.

Melissa Fagan, defending, asked for the probation service to prepare a report for the judge and thanked the CPS for its ongoing efforts to work out the exact amount of money taken from each victim.

Barton will now appear at Bolton Crown Court for sentencing on April 12.

She was released on conditional bail ordering her not to contact any of the victims.