Northern Ireland

County Down solicitor defrauded bank of £400,000

Craigavon courthouse
Image caption Annett pleaded guilty at Craigavon Crown Court

A County Down solicitor defrauded a bank of £400,000 to help buy a partnership in a legal practice and an apartment in England.

David Annett, 38, of Church Road, Dromara pleaded guilty at Craigavon Crown Court to a total of four charges.

He admitted defrauding the First Trust Bank, two counts of theft and transferring over £110,000 of property out of his employer's business account.

In August 2012, Annett went into Lurgan police station to admit responsibility.

A prosecution lawyer told the court that in 2007, while working for Portadown-based JP Hagan Solicitors he was "approached by a senior partner who asked him if he wanted to become a partner in the firm."

"The offer came at a cost - the cost was £250,000. The defendant remortgaged his home at Church Road with First Trust Bank/Allied Irish Bank."

Personal account

He already had a mortgage with UCB Home Loans, which totalled £220,000.

The lawyer said that the First Trust Bank believed "they would be the first charge on the property".

The money was released to Hagan's Solicitors to settle the UCB mortgage and pay the £250,000 to take up the partnership.

However, the lawyer said, the UCB mortgage "was not discharged" and "the defendant accessed the business account and transferred the entire amount of monies into his personal account".

In another incident, Annett was approached by a County Down family who had been offered £25,000 to buy its land.

Investment property

He said he would have the money checked out under the proceeds of crime legislation.

Whilst having the money in his possession Annett removed £17,380 out of the £25,000.

The court also heard that, in March 2008, Annett moved £112,000 out of the law firm's business account to "buy himself an investment property in Corby, England".

A defence lawyer said that, after going to the police station. Annett went to see his minister and the elders of his church and confessed his crimes.