Manchester-based solicitor Nicholas Heywood has been jailed for 12 months after being found guilty of laundering money from a vulnerable lottery winner.
Until November 2010 Heywood practised at the Betesh Partnership in Manchester. Today, he was sentenced after pleading guilty to money laundering, perverting the course of justice and prejudicing a money laundering investigation.
The charges relate to work conducted by Heywood on behalf of Keith Gough, whose wife won £9.5m on the lottery in June 2005. Gough had been targeted by convicted fraudster James Prince, who was convicted of fraud and money laundering in 2009.
According to Cheshire Constabulary, Heywood’s conviction related to a loan made to Gough as a result of Prince’s activity. Heywood transferred £13,750 of the loan to himself.
The police said that Gough’s alcohol-related health problems and access to large amounts of money presented him as a vulnerable person. Gough died prior to Heywood pleading guilty in the matter.
Cheshire Constabulary detective inspector Tim Dean said he could not “think of a more damning condemnation of a solicitor other than to pervert the course of justice and launder money. His actions have undermined the public trust in all solicitors.”
He added: “Heywood abused his trusted position as a solicitor with the deliberate intent of frustrating a police investigation and justice itself. Heywood very nearly succeeded but through sheer tenacity officers in the case uncovered the truth resulting in Heywood′s conviction.”
During this investigation police sought a number of conveyancing files from the Betesh Partnership, where Heywood worked as a salaried partner. According to the police, Heywood failed to produce two key files and although he later produced one file it was significantly altered. The second file was hidden until discovered by police. His actions frustrated the police investigation and perverted the course of justice in relation to charges brought against Duncan Adamson, a friend and client of Heywood.
Adamson himself is currently in custody serving a substantial sentence imposed when he failed to pay a £1.3m confiscation order.
The SRA placed a control order on Heywood in July 2010 stating that he would need to be supervised by a partner, manager or owner of a firm for any fee-earning work relating to conveyancing matters.