Former Blackpool solicitor is jailed for taking £150k from will

Andrew Eastham, 63, of Underbank Road, Thornton, had 279,462 paid into his bank account following the death of his client Eric Woolfeden in 2014.
Andrew Eastham, 63, of Underbank Road, Thornton, had 279,462 paid into his bank account following the death of his client Eric Woolfeden in 2014.

A former Blackpool solicitor who took almost £150,000 from a pensioner’s will has been jailed for two years and eight months.

Andrew Eastham, 63, of Underbank Road, Thornton, had £279,462 paid into his bank account following the death of his client Eric Woolfeden in 2014.

As the sole executor of the will he was supposed to send the sum to Mr Woolfeden’s niece, 77-year-old Elaine Price, but she only received £7,500 and Eastham instead transferred around half the money to his ex-wife through an account in the West Midlands, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

She was set to go bankrupt when her ex-husband received the proceeds from Mr Woolfeden’s will.

Blackpool man Mr Woolfeden, who died on May 10, 2014, signed his will in 1990 when Eastham was still a solicitor.

Eastham was a former director of Easthams Solicitors Ltd in Blackpool but left the company in 2006.

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He was then removed from the roll of solicitors in 2007 over the handling of clients’ money.

A spokesman for the Blackpool legal firm said in a statement after the case: “Andrew Eastham retired from Easthams Solicitors in 2006, since when he has had no involvement at all in the business.”

Joseph Hart, defending, said Eastham had wanted to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife.

Eastham admitted fraud by abuse of position and was jailed by Judge John Wait for two years, eight months.

His former partner was initially a co-accused. She never entered a plea and her psychiatric condition meant she was unfit to stand trial.