Former Cobbetts clerk jailed for stealing £20,000 from firm

An accounts clerk working at Cobbetts’ Manchester office has been jailed for 15 months after admitting stealing £20,000 from client accounts.

James Hollingworth began diverting cash from dormant client accounts and then falsified documents after developing a serious gambling addiction.

The financial irregularities, which went undetected for several months, were exposed by an audit carried out after he resigned from the firm following a disciplinary matter in April.

Hollingworth’s counsel, St Johns Chambers’ Keith Harrison, said that his client’s life had “fallen into the abyss” before he began defrauding his employer, claiming he was not a “callous, hardened criminal” who had enjoyed a life of luxury from the proceeds of his crimes.

The court was told that Hollingworth has personal debts of £18,000, and was unlikely to ever be employed in a position of trust involving money again.

A spokesperson for Cobbetts said: “Cobbetts is routinely audited by external auditors, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and its financial controls are appropriate.

“Cobbetts has its own internal audit procedures and reviews its systems and controls to reflect continuous improvement and best practice. No client of the firm has been affected financially or otherwise from what was an isolated matter.”