A LAWYER from Chard has been ordered to pay back more than £360,000 after being convicted of fraud and theft.

Will writer Keith Webber, 67 of Cerdic Close, was convicted of six counts of fraud and theft in February and jailed for five years but appeared at Bristol Crown Court last week for a confiscation hearing.

At the hearing he was ordered to repay the full value of the monies stolen within six months or face a further five years in prison. He will still be required to pay the confiscation order.

The court heard that he had benefitted from his criminal activity to the value of £362,978.56.

A compensation order was also made, which requires that all monies will be returned to the estates of the deceased and the rightful beneficiaries will in turn, receive their bequests.

Dr Kirstie Cogram, Manager of Avon and Somerset Police’s Financial Investigation Unit said: “This result demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that crime does not and will not pay and at the same time, the rightful beneficiaries will be compensated”.

The court heard how Webber abused his position over a three-year period, while managing the estates of four elderly clients.

The News reported in February how a court heard that Webber gained the trust of four ‘elderly and vulnerable people’ who made him the sole executor of their wills and trusted him implicitly.

But he then used a variety of methods to steal their money, including exaggerating his fees and persuading them to sign over assets into his name.

He persuaded his clients to make ‘very generous’ gifts to him in their dying days – one buying him an £11,000 Jaguar car.

Webber even forged one woman’s will two weeks after her death – switching himself as the main beneficiary instead of two cancer charities.

One-in-seven people knows someone living off the proceeds of crime - for more information on making criminals pay visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/payback Alternatively you can call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org where you will not be asked for your name and your call will not be traced.