Solicitor is found guilty of stealing Wigan firm’s cash

Arthur Smiths Solicitors on King Street
Arthur Smiths Solicitors on King Street

A solicitor alleged to have stolen tens of thousands of pounds from her Wigan legal practice has been convicted by a jury.

And a fraudster said to have ripped off a number of well-known business figures in the borough is also facing jail after guilty verdicts following a lengthy trial at Preston Crown Court.

Disgraced lawyer Elizabeth Rose Egarr, 60, was blamed for the demise of Arthur Smith Solicitors, in King Street, after a series of illegal payments, from the firm’s coffers, were made to a bogus police officer.

Egarr insisted there was no question of dishonesty and that she was making enquiries about getting the money back when the authorities, including the police and Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) stepped in.

But Andrew Walsh, who worked as the responsible finance officer at the firm, gave evidence at her trial that he had been instructed to make unlawful transfers from their client account to the office coffers. Judge Heather Lloyd told jurors that the SRA, whose investigation was led by an official named

Lisa Bridges, had already confirmed that the financial transactions had taken place.

The conman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed to have bought up the “head lease” for Wigan Pier, and used that as a selling point to make a number of deals in Wigan.

But he ended up cheating Arthur Smith’s out of at least £22,500, and David Mayhall, of Allgates Brewery, out of £18,000, the court heard.

He also scammed GS Cold Storage, walking away with £8,500, and he defrauded Thwaites Brewery, fleecing them out of £17,000.

Later he moved on to Cumbria, according to prosecutors, where he fraudulently bought up a rural attraction, Ducky’s World, conned two farmers out of land and a pension, and cheated a mortgage company.

Egarr, formerly of Chantry Court, Westhoughton, but now of Faringdon Walk, Bolton, was found guilty of theft.

The fraudster was convicted of several frauds, trading while bankrupt and arson.

Bail was granted for Egarr until she is sentenced by Judge Heather Lloyd on July 27 while the fraudster was remanded in custody.

Another alleged accomplice, Paul Kelly, 58, from Leeds, was convicted of a role in the fraudster’s wider scams.

But jurors failed to return verdicts on related charges concerning Malcolm Keith, 45, of Cumbria, and were discharged by Judge Lloyd.