A FINANCIAL adviser who stole more than £300,000 from different clients has been jailed for three years.

Adrian John Bancroft, of Westbury Drive, Pandy, took nearly £336,000 from five people in Teesside during a seven-year deception until his arrest last year.

Bancroft’s barrister said the doctor of palaeontology was “wholly unsuited” to a career in finance, but had failed to get a job in the field he had trained in.

James Gregory said it was “a thousand pities” that Bancroft could not follow his dreams after getting his Phd at Durham University.

The 52-year-old answered an advertisement in a local newspaper to become an independent financial adviser, and initially the business did well.

But by 2004 and with a dwindling client list, Bancroft resorted to dishonest practices to “prop up a pretty routine life,” Mr Gregory told Teesside Crown Court.

When he was arrested last year, he told police: “I’ve lived a complete and utter fabrication...I’ve just woven this web for myself.”

The court heard that one of the victims – a 71-year-old man from Hartlepool who lost £115,000 – has since been widowed and has had to sell his home and move to Spain.

The former oil and gas worker said he lay awake at night feeling physically sick because of the position he has been left in by a man he trusted.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said: “He is now forced to live an isolated, pennypinching existence away from his friends while still grieving the loss of his wife.”

Bancroft admitted ten charges of fraud, four of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three of acquiring criminal property and one of transferring criminal property.

Mr Gregory said Bancroft would lose all his assets and “will do all he can from now onwards to put things right”.

Most recent business transactions prior to Bancroft’s arrest were being dealt with by the defendant from his home address in Wrexham, due to the fact he was having his post redirected.

After the case, Detective Constable Rachel Peake, said: “He behaved in a dishonest manner, showing a blatant disregard for his client’s financial welfare.”

An application for compensation for the victims will also be made.