Solicitor on fraud charges

Solicitor on fraud charges

15 August 2018

A COMBER solicitor is to go on trial accused of stealing more than £250,000 from various clients.

Elaine Early (53), from Killinchy Road, faces 12 counts of fraud against clients, including the wills of the deceased.

She also faces five counts of transferring criminal property and one count of theft, all of which are alleged to have been committed between September 3, 2014, and February 13, 2016.

Early appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Friday when she confirmed she was aware of the 18 charges against her.

She is accused of a single count of stealing credit from various clients amounting to a total of £261,916.

The charges of transferring criminal property relate to her allegedly transferring a total of £134,750 to her own account, the account of her now defunct firm Elaine Early Co, Solicitor, and to the accounts of clients she allegedly defrauded.

She is accused of abusing her position as a solicitor in order to defraud various clients, two of them deceased, of funds which she allegedly transferred to her own accounts or between accounts of other clients she allegedly defrauded. 

The full facts underlining the allegations were not heard in the short preliminary inquiry hearing.

However, a prosecuting lawyer submitted there was a prima facie case against Early, a submission which was conceded by defence solicitor Tony Caher.

Early was returned to Downpatrick Crown Court for trial on September 5. She was released on her own bail of £750.