Sussex

Former judge Simon Kenny jailed over Selsey law firm fraud

Simon Kenny and Emma Coates
Image caption Simon Kenny and Emma Coates were both jailed for six years

A former deputy judge and his assistant have both been jailed for six years after defrauding more than £600,000 from their law firm's clients.

Simon Kenny, 60, and Emma Coates, 47, plundered the accounts of CK Solicitors in Selsey, West Sussex.

Southwark Crown Court heard he used the cash to keep the company afloat but Coates spent it on lavish holidays, mortgages payments and a hot tub.

They were convicted of fraud with Stephen Hiseman, of Morzine, France.

Hiseman, 61, was given a two-and-a-half-year jail term.

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The trial heard how former lovers Kenny and Coates transferred money to themselves over four years, telling staff cash was being moved to offshore accounts because of the Northern Rock banking crisis.

Company accountant Robert Foskett killed himself after realising he had been lied to, their trial heard.

Jurors saw his suicide note, which read: "I am so sorry but the pressure mounts on me. I was lured into signing an audit certificate by Simon Kenny which I should not have.

"He assured me funds would be [available] the following week from his family trust but that became untrue," his note went on.

'No remorse'

Kenny, a former district judge from St Leonards, was removed from the judicial office in 2014 after an investigation in to his conduct as a solicitor, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said.

The court heard Coates of Tudor Avenue, Bognor Regis, took 12 friends on one of many holidays to Barbados and also bought a Range Rover.

The pair later blamed each other for the fraud.

Judge Peter Testar said the actions of Kenny and Coates represented a "breach of a high degree of trust over a sustained period of time".

He also said Hiseman had shown no remorse.

Naheed Hussain, deputy head of the CPS specialist fraud division, said: "The prosecution showed how Simon Kenny and Emma Coates fraudulently took five-figure sums from their firm's clients, including £85,000 from the will of an elderly woman.

"Through detailed analysis of the financial transactions, prosecutors and investigators were able to present a compelling case to the jury which resulted in these convictions."

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