Crooked coroner facing jail after stealing from estates of the dead
DISGRACED coroner Alan Crickmore is facing jail after admitting stealing £2 million from the estates of the dead.
The 57-year-old, of East Approach Drive, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to 24 counts of fraud over more than a decade.
Crickmore, who ran his own legal practice in Cheltenham High Street, is now on bail and has suffered the indignity of being fitted with an electronic tag.
Crickmore was first arrested by police in January 2011 after an investigation into irregularities at his legal practice. After a career spanning 30 years, he was suspended from practising as a solicitor in December 2010 and, shortly afterwards, ceased acting in his role as coroner of Gloucestershire.
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Southwark Crown Court heard how Crickmore stole the money in a "frenzied attempt" to balance the books at his firm, Alan C. Crickmore.
Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls told the court: "Mr Crickmore is a 57-year-old man who qualified as a solicitor in the 1980s and has been in practice since 1992. He stole in various different ways about £2 million from clients.
"All of the money was stolen from clients either from their estates if they died or clients who were unable to understand."
It emerged that since his suspension, he has still been paid his coroner's salary. Mr Fenhalls said: "He has been paid £60,000 a year which has gone to him and he has sent an email to the authority saying that he will resign from November 1 this year. The decision not to resign is to ensure he got his full salary for November."
Four of the fraud charges against Crickmore relate to him raiding money, as the executor, from the estates of dead clients between 2007 and 2011.
Crickmore plundered the estates of the late Kenneth Layton Goodwin, Josef Dziuma, Elizabeth Iles and Peter Mitchell. He also conned Judith Lorman and her son, Simon, as well as Claire Wilson and Sylvia Jones.
Crickmore even took out a bogus mortgage on a property in Stiffkey, Norfolk, after he was ordered to repay £212,000 he stole from Mrs Lorman following a high court judgement.
Edward Henry, defending Crickmore, said he had been "in a trap of his own making for years", resulting in a significant effect on his mental and physical health.
"He became a fraud to himself before he became a conman, I regret to submit, to his clients," he said. "He embarked on a frenzied attempt to balance the books and this was absolutely chronic over a period of over a decade. He has a significant history of depression and is completely broken by this.
"He was made bankrupt in 2011 and discharged from bankruptcy in 2012 only because all of his assets were restrained for the purposes of confiscation. He comes before the court abjectly devoid of funds."
Adjourning sentence for reports, Judge Anthony Leonard QC told Crickmore: "You have pleaded guilty to serious offences and you know what the inevitable result of that will be. There is only one potential outcome, that is a sentence of imprisonment."
He admitted 16 counts of theft, seven of fraud by abuse of position and one of fraud between 1999 and 2011, but denied a further count of fraud by abuse of position.
Crickmore will be sentenced on November 28.
Afterwards, Gloucestershire police's Detective Chief Inspector Dave Sellwood, who led the investigation, said: "This has been a meticulous and thorough two-year investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary that followed an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority."
Crickmore became deputy coroner for Gloucester in 1990, took over as the city coroner in 2002, and three years later took on the role of the coroner for the Cotswolds. He then combined the jobs to become the first coroner to cover the whole of Gloucestershire.