Solicitor who embezzled £21,000 from Thorley Stephenson sells house to repay sum

Solicitor who embezzled £21,000 from Thorley Stephenson sells house to repay sum

A solicitor guilty of embezzling over £21,000 from a law firm in Edinburgh has sold his house to repay the sum.

Paul O’Donnell, 35, has moved in with relatives after declaring bankruptcy and leaving the profession.

Mr O’Donnell has been warned he faces jail time for his actions.

He pleaded guilty to embezzling the money from Thorley Stephenson in South Bridge earlier this year. He carried out the acts between November 2012 and September 2014.

In July, Sheriff Frank Crowe told him: “I would like to see repayment. The firm will have to repay their clients and reputation.”

Fiscal depute Gerard Duggan explained at the time that Mr O’Donnell had joined the firm following a period with a firm in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.

But, when it appeared payments made to him from clients had not been lodged with the firm’s cashiers office, he was investigated.

Eleven clients had given Mr O’Donnell sums ranging from £750 to £1,800. He was arrested in February 2015 following an investigation by the police and the Law Society of Scotland.

Mr Duggan said the lawyer had told police that he “had had financial difficulties and was using the money for general expenses”.

At the hearing yesterday, Murray Robertson, defending, told Sheriff Crowe that Mr O’Donnell has sold his house and paid the firm back for its losses.

Sheriff Crowe explained that cases like this normally involve imprisonment but because Mr O’Donnell cooperated fully, admitted his guilt and paid the money back he would impose a Restriction of Liberty Order rather than a custodial sentence.

He confined Mr O’Donnell to his address for six months between 9pm and 6am.

However, action could yet be taken under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

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