Leeds & West Yorkshire

Solicitor cleared of helping con £730,000 from college

A West Yorkshire solicitor has been cleared of helping to cheat a sixth-form college out of £730,000.

Andrew Wormstone was cleared at the Old Bailey of two charges involving the concealment and transfer of funds.

The court heard Mr Wormstone, of Ashworth Road, Pontefract, received money from Oldham Sixth Form College which was meant for a builder.

He transferred the funds to an account used to buy gold but said he was acting in good faith on behalf of a client.

Mr Wormstone denied concealing criminal property of £2,634 and transferring criminal funds of £730,000 in March last year.

Client not traced

He told the court the client contacted him by phone to arrange a loan transaction.

He said: "I sent him a standard agreement to sign. In hindsight, I should have insisted on the originals of identity documents. It was remiss of me."

Mr Wormstone told police he retained £2,634 for his fees and was acting on behalf of the client who wanted to invest in gold, and had not suspected anything was wrong.

Martin Hooper, prosecuting, said the money was sent to Mr Wormstone's law firm Velocity, in Leeds, after the college received a letter claiming its builder had changed its bank account.

After two days, most of the funds were transferred into an account of a "Mr Marshall", who has never been traced and who might not exist, said Mr Hooper.

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