A FORMER solicitor from Flintshire who admitted four frauds totalling £854,000 has been jailed.

Richard Hallows, of Wold Court, Hawarden, appeared before Caernarfon Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (December 8). 

The 66-year-old had previously been due to face a trial at Caernarfon Crown Court but, on the day of his hearing, he pleaded guilty to the four offences.

Nicola Daley, prosecuting, said the offences occurred between 2016 and 2018 when Hallows was running his own legal practice based in Mold. He has since been struck off as a lawyer. 

One of Hallows' victims, Robert McEwan-Peters lost in the region of £600,000 after transferring the sum to the Hallows Associates accounts in August 2017. 

The money was destined for investments, but shortly after Hallows transferred the funds from the solicitors client account and primarily used the money to make repayments of loans he'd taken out in the name of another company named Tramstack. The money was used additionally to finance the business premises. 

Text messages and emails from Mr McEwan-Peters revealed regular requests for the return of the money. The defendant responded with various excuses and explanations as to why he couldn't do so. 

The second victims were a couple named Rachel and John Lloyd. They had a property company and had instructed Hallows to act for them in relation to conveyancing matters for more than 10 years. Hallows dealt with various transactions for them and the couple would often leave money on accounts to be used in respect of future transactions as they trusted the defendant. 

Between September 2017 and March 2020, Hallows acted as solicitor in relation to the sale of one of Mr and Mrs Lloyds properties in Oswestry. When the property was sold in September 2017, there was a mortgage on it that had a balance of £98,000. When the sale proceeds were received in by the purchaser's solicitors - the defendant was expected to pay off the outstanding mortgage and then pass the rest of the proceeds to the Lloyds. 

Instead, Hallows used the funds for other means - to pay off a loan he had previously taken out for Tramstack. 

In February 2018, Mrs Lloyd received a letter telling her that the mortgage she thought had been paid, was in fact outstanding - and interest on it had been rising. 

After Mrs Lloyd heard that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) had taken control of the defendant's practice due to concerns over fraud, she asked for copies of all of the ledgers in respect of the transactions. She found that Hallows had been inserting so-called 'ghost' entries to disguise the origins and transfers of funds. Mrs Lloyd was compensated £98,000 from the SRA.

On count three, Hallows defrauded a woman named Beverley Montgomery - who had purchased a property in Conwy. Hallows was acting on behalf of the property seller and Mrs Montgomery was represented by another firm, Gamlins. 

Prior to her buying the property, it'd been established that Conwy Council had placed a legal charge of just shy of £8,500. Prior to the completion of the sale, the defendant provided Gamlins with an undertaking that upon the completion of the sale, that charge would be paid off. 

After the completion of the sale in March 2016, £117,000 was transferred to the Hallows Associates client account. From that sum, the just short of £8,500 should have been paid to Conwy Council. Despite the defendant saying in a letter sent in October 2017 that a payment cheque had been sent, and one in November 2017 that the payment had been made, Conwy Council confirmed that the legal charge was never paid. 

The fourth count involved Hallows acting on behalf of the estate of the late Patricia Taylor. Mrs Taylor's granddaughter, Charlotte Herrity, had instructed Hallows to be the executor of Mrs Taylor's will. While acting in that capacity, rather than holding the probate funds received in and them distributing them as instructed, he used the funds for himself. 

On July 8, 2016 there was receipt into the Hallows account of £147,000 which was the proceeds of the sale of the estate. Rather than hold the amount, he transferred the sum to his office account and thereafter it was dissipated in terms of paying for costs and then Hallows provided numerous excuses to Mrs Herrity for not having the money. 

The police arrested Hallows in 2019 - who said in police interview that he couldn't recall specific details as he didn't have access to his files. 

A victim personal statement from Rachel Lloyd said: "The money was taken by a person we thought we could trust, by someone who held a position in society which we thought was honourable.

"Sadly this was not the case, we were left with a man who put his own interests and greed before the people he was meant to be looking after."

She added that the fraudulent activity has had a significant impact on her mental health. 


Charlotte Herrity said she wasn't able to properly grieve for her grandmother due to the stress and worry caused by Hallows regarding Mrs Taylors estate.  

Duncan Bould, defending, said his client likely was undergoing a mental breakdown when the offences occurred. He was a man of previous good character and several character testimonies from business associates, clients friends and other peers were read out to the court. 

Mr Bould said that for the best part of 40 years, Hallows had a distinguished career and had acted with integrity prior to the "sorry events" that brought him to court. 

Judge Timothy Petts, who said Hallows hadn't expressed any remorse for his actions, said he was "selfish, premeditated and undermined confidence in the profession".

Judge sentenced Hallows to five years and 10 months imprisonment.