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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Solicitor pleads guilty to theft
A solicitor who stole nearly 350,000 from clients and the Inland Revenue has been jailed for four years for theft.

Christopher McChrystal, 52, was caught when the Law Society carried out an inspection at his sole practice on De Montfort Street in Leicester.

Lincoln Crown Court heard McChrystal used some of the money to prop up his failing business.

Victim George Brandom, 89, lost 75,000 after McChrystal was granted power of attorney to pay his nursing bills.

Church organist

The court heard that Law Society inspectors found the deficit when they visited McChrystal's office in July 2004.

Further investigations revealed McChrystal had also misused 121,113 paid to him by clients for Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees.

Martin Beddoe, prosecuting, said McChrystal explained to the Law Society inspectors that he had been "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

McChrystal was arrested at his Leicestershire home in October 2004 after the Law Society referred his case to the police.

The court heard McChrystal was a church organist for 35 years and vice president of his local cricket club.

He also had two previous convictions for drink-driving.

Bryan Dean, mitigating, said McChrystal's professional and personal life "self destructed" when he began dipping into clients' accounts after his family home faced repossession.

McChrystal, of Main Street, Swithland, admitted four charges of theft between 1 October 2002 and 12 August 2004.

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