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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Solicitor jailed for will swindle
Phillip Huxtable
The Law Society has already paid out 2.5m to victims
A north Devon solicitor who swindled clients out of more than 280,000 has been jailed for three and a half years.

Philip Huxtable, 58, from Hiscott near Barnstaple, was found guilty last month of 11 charges of stealing from clients.

He tried to cover up his stealing by massively overcharging clients, Bournemouth Crown Court was told.

The Freemason, who has since been made bankrupt, used the money to prop up his ailing business, Pitts Tuckers, and to finance a lavish lifestyle.

The 11 charges Mr Huxtable faced in court were specimen charges and the Law Society has already paid out more than 2.5m in compensation to Mr Huxtable's clients.

Sentencing him, Judge Samuel Wiggs said he had to take into account the degree of trust people had put into him, the length of time over which he committed the thefts, the effects it had on his victims and public confidence.

Joe Tucker, of the Pitts Tuckers Action Group, which represents Huxtable's victims, said: "He is arrogant, a thief and a liar. He was always arrogant but now he has been proved to be a thief and a liar.

"I think he got away with it to start with and after that it just snowballed.

"He thought he was untouchable and just carried on stealing money meant for grieving families."

Extreme pressure

Jeremy Gibbons, defending, said Huxtable has resigned from the Freemasons and has since been made bankrupt.

Giving evidence, Huxtable confessed he was under "extreme pressure" because of the amount of probate he had to deal with and this may have caused him to make mistakes.

Huxtable's firm Pitts Tucker was closed down by the Law Society in 2001 and was struck off a year later.

Law Society spokesman Geoffrey Negus said: "His conduct was disgraceful.

"He was a convincing conman who abused the trust put in his hands by hundreds of clients. He abused the trust of his clients on a shocking scale."




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