A LAWYER who pocketed £300,000 by making himself the beneficiary of his clients’ wills and stealing money from their estates has been jailed for five years.
Keith Webber, 67, of Chard, gained the trust of four ‘elderly and vulnerable people’ who made him the sole executor of their wills and trusted him implicitly, a court heard.
But he then used a variety of methods to steal their money, including exaggerating his fees and persuading them to sign over assets into his name.
He persuaded his clients to make ‘very generous’ gifts to him in their dying days – one buying him an £11,000 Jaguar car.
Webber even forged one woman’s will two weeks after her death – switching himself as the main beneficiary instead of two cancer charities.
He was sentenced to five years behind bars on Friday after a jury found him guilty of six counts of fraud and theft at Bristol Crown Court.
Judge Graham Hume Jones said: “Your offences involve deception aimed at four elderly people, your wife’s sister and her husband and two other elderly ladies.
“In each their vulnerability was that there was insistent they wanted to put their trust in someone they could rely on.
“These offences were confidence fraud offences which deliberately targeted four vulnerable victims.”
The court heard how Webber ran a business known as Will Power, later changed to KEW Wills, where he managed wills and powers of attorney.
He abused his powers with a number of clients including his sister-in-law, Esther Larn, her husband David, and two women, Audrey Jarvis and Vera Costan.
Speaking at his three-week trial, Rupert Lowe, prosecuting, said Webber was ‘trusted’.
He added: “But instead of looking after their affairs he actually found ways to help himself to their money.
“He would persuade, or deceive, them into making him large gifts, tens of thousands of pounds.” Charles Rowe, defending, said Webber had not spent the money.
He added: “This is a man who was not spending his ill-gotten gains on drugs or whatever it may be but there it sits in the account.”
The court was also told that during the course of the investigation into the fraud, experts found 513 child pornography images on his computer.
Webber pleaded guilty to nine counts of possession of indecent images and was handed six months concurrently.