Legal secretary jailed for stealing £80,000 from vulnerable clients and going on shopping sprees

A shamed legal secretary has been jailed for stealing nearly £80,000 from vulnerable clients - and spending it all on shopping sprees.

Mother-of-two Dianne Spragg, 48, plundered money from "mentally incapacitated" customers at her solicitors firm to splurge it on shoes, clothes and furniture.

She was jailed for two-and-a-half-years for writing a series of cheques to herself or to online shopping companies totalling more than £79,000.

A total of 65 cheques were fraudulently written. She said she stole to ensure she never went without anything she fancied buying.

Prosecutor Tony Trigg
Cardiff Crown Court. Credit: PA

Cardiff Crown Court was shown photographs of her home which were described as "nicely furnished" and with "smart clothes and new shoe boxes in the wardrobe."

The court heard Spragg targeted accounts of injured and mentally incapacitated clients - while she earned a salary of £20,200 as a legal secretary with Cardiff law firm Geldards.

The firm acts for the Court of Protection to deal with financial affairs of people who "lack the ability" to run their own finances.

Mr Trigg said: "She said she developed the habit of shopping online for more than she could afford."

Adam Sharp, defending, said: "She was a legal secretary for over 20 years and feels and overwhelming sense of shame."

Spragg, of St Christopher Drive, Caerphilly, admitted fraud and possessing criminal property.

Jailing her, Judge Thomas Crowther, said:

This was a gross breach of trust. You depleted the accounts of people who, through age, accident or injury were unable to administer their own affairs. This money was not being used to feed hungry children but to see you never had to deny yourself anything you wanted.

Judge Thomas Crowther

The court heard Spragg's victims had all been reimbursed from her solicitors firm.