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Former lawyer sent to jail

Lindsay Gribben. PHOTO/FILE

WCM Legal welcome jail sentence

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Struck-off Masterton lawyer Lindsay Boyd Gribben has been jailed for stealing just under $900,000 from clients.

Gribben, 67, pleaded guilty to nine charges of theft and fraud at the Ashburton District Court last Monday and was sentenced to prison for three years, eight months.

Judge Tom Gilbert, delivering the sentence, said the crimes were premeditated “with a degree of sophistication”, the Ashburton Guardian reported.

“It is fair to say Mr Gribben you have caused an awful lot of harm, and you have disgraced not just yourself but the [legal] profession,” Gilbert said.

Retired legal partner of Masterton law firm Major, Gooding and Partners [now closed], Avon Jolly went to the South Island proceedings because he and his wife Janet supplied victim impact statements.

Gribben was a partner of the firm from 1995 until 2015 when Jolly retired.

Gribben stole $25,000 from Janet from a trust he had access to.

And by being a partner in the firm Gribben worked for, Jolly was sued by one of his victims and settled out of court.

One victim said they were out of pocket by at least $300,000.

Two of the other defrauded clients were elderly people living in rest homes.

At least 170 illegal transactions have been traced.

Most of the funds were stolen from the Scott family who are now living overseas.

In 2012, Jolly was alerted by the firm’s in-house accountant to some suspicious transactions and the Law Society was informed but Gribben cleared himself at the time.

But it was when Gribben was working for WCM Legal in 2018 that he got caught red handed and that firm swiftly got police involved.

WCM Legal terminated his contract, but he had already been working for them for two years.

Former principal at WCM Legal Keith McClure said the team was, “horrified by Lindsay Gribben’s actions”. McClure welcomed this week’s sentence.

“The sentence received by Gribben on Monday demonstrates this is the expectation of the community and if a lawyer abuses the clients’ trust, then the lawyer should, and will, be held to account,” McClure said.

“Our team and I were horrified by Lindsay Gribben’s actions and are relieved that the matter has finally been dealt with.”

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