Ex-Blythes partner faces jail for theft

FORMER Blythe Liggins partner Terence Liggins – the son of one of the Leamington Spa firm's founding partners – has been found guilty of stealing £200,000 from a client in order to prop up his ailing timeshare company.

Liggins – whose father Sir Edmund Liggins was president of the Law Society – was convicted of theft on 24 April at Worcester Crown Court.

Remanding him in custody for pre-sentence reports, His Honour Judge Andrew Geddes warned him to expect “a lengthy period of imprisonment”.

The court heard how during the 1980s and early 1990s, Liggins, who was a commercial partner at the 11-partner firm until his arrest in 1994, acted for Alexander Stevenson, a British businessman working in South Africa.

Stevenson channelled £3m worth of investments in the UK through Liggins. Liggins then used some of this money to try to keep afloat Circle Holidays, the timeshare company of which he was a director.

Christopher Donnellan, prosecuting, said Liggins “robbed Peter to pay Paul”.

He added: “The money he stole went some way to cover failed attempts to keep Circle alive.”

Liggins claimed that the money was a personal loan and that he intended to repay it.

But Stevenson denied this, claiming that he trusted the solicitor implicitly.

When he discovered that Liggins had transferred £200,000 from his account he contacted the police.

“He didn't ask and I didn't agree to lend him any money,” said Stevenson.

Liggins was unable to make the repayment when Circle Holidays folded with debts of more than £2.3m.

Last July Liggins was also disqualified from acting as a director for eight years as a result of his role in Circle Holidays' demise.

At the trial, Liggins was cleared of stealing £65,000 from another client of the firm, property developer Paul Douglas, and of false accounting.

After the hearing, Blythe Liggins stressed Liggins' charges “stemmed mainly from his outside business activities and no other member of the firm was involved in, or aware of, those dealings.”